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Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor

OUCC > Natural Gas > Natural Gas Cases of Note > Vectren Gas Infrastructure Plans Vectren Gas Infrastructure Plans

Vectren Energy Delivery has filed a formal request seeking Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) approval of long-term plans for natural gas transmission, distribution and storage system improvements, including incremental rate recovery of those costs as the projects proceed.

Vectren has filed its request under 2 state laws: A 2011 law dealing with cost recovery for federal mandates and a 2013 law addressing system improvements.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor's (OUCC's) testimony - filed on March 21, 2014 - is linked and summarized below.

Vectren customers who would like to provide comments for the case's formal record may do so by submitting written comments to the OUCC by the close of business on April 21. An IURC public field hearing was held on April 14, 2014 in Evansville.

For more information, please see the OUCC's March 17, 2014 news release or the consumer fact sheet distributed at the field hearing.

A brief summary of the laws

Indiana Code 8-1-8.4, approved by the Indiana General Assembly in 2011 (Senate Enrolled Act 251), allows natural gas and electric utilities to recover federally mandated costs.

  • Under the statute, a utility’s costs of complying with a number of federal mandates can be recovered through rates, including any requirement issued by the United States Department of Transportation (which has jurisdiction over interstate gas pipeline issues), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Department of Energy (DOE), or by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

  • Before recovering the costs through rates, the utility must receive IURC approval for its proposed projects. It may then recover 80 percent of the costs through incremental rate increases every six months (with the remaining 20 percent deferred until the utility’s next base rate case). The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) participates in these cases on behalf of ratepayer interests.

  • Vectren currently recovers these costs through its Pipeline Safety Adjustment (PSA).

Indiana Code 8-1-39 was approved by the General Assembly in 2013 (Senate Enrolled Act 560). It allows electric and natural gas utilities to submit 7-year infrastructure improvement plans for IURC approval.

  • Once a 7-year plan receives IURC approval, the utility may request incremental rate increases every 6 months to recover the amounts actually spent on the projects. The rate adjustment is referred to as the Transmission, Distribution and Storage System Improvement Charge (TDSIC). The IURC has 90 days to rule on such a request.

  • TDSIC rate increases are limited to no more than 2 percent of the utility’s total retail revenues each year.

  • The TDSIC rate mechanism (or tracker) allows the utility to recover 80 percent of the costs as they are incurred. The remaining costs are deferred until the utility's next base rate case, which must be filed before the end of the 7-year period.

  • Vectren is the second utility to request TDSIC ratemaking treatment and cost recovery. Northern Indiana Public Service Co. (NIPSCO) filed TDSIC requests for its gas and electric utilities earlier in 2013, and its cases are pending.

Vectren North request

The Vectren North gas service territory includes approximately 570,000 customers in 48 central, south-central and southeastern Indiana counties formerly served by Indiana Gas Co.

According to the utility's testimony and exhibits:

  • The 7-year plan has a total of about $647.1 million in capital improvement projects. This total includes $369.7 million under the federal mandate law and $277.4 million in TDSIC rate recovery.

  • Projects throughout Vectren North’s natural gas service territory include main replacements, upgrades to transmission and distribution pipelines, and extensions into territories that currently do not have natural gas service.

  • If approved by the IURC, construction would start in 2014.

  • Vectren North plans to file its first gas rate increase request for these costs in September 2014. It proposes to combine recovery of federally mandated costs and TDSIC costs through a new rate recovery mechanism called the Compliance and System Improvement Adjustment (CSIA).

  • Vectren North projects that the CSIA would raise an average residential customer’s monthly bill by $0.97 in the first year. Annual rate impacts on a percentage basis are as follows:

Year

Federally mandated costs

Annual rate increases
by percentage (%)

TDSIC costs

Annual rate increases
by percentage (%)

Total Revenue

Residential Customers

Total Revenue

Residential Customers

2015

1.24

1.29

0.27

0.28

2016

1.71

1.78

0.63

0.65

2017

1.24

1.29

0.69

0.72

2018

1.08

1.12

0.73

0.75

2019

0.99

1.02

0.70

0.73

2020

0.85

0.88

0.64

0.66

2021

0.67

0.69

0.65

0.68

Source: Petitioner’s Exhibit No. SEA-3, IURC Cause No. 44430

Vectren South request

The Vectren South gas service territory includes about 110,000 customers in nine southwestern Indiana counties formerly served by Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Co. (SIGECO).

According to the utility's testimony and exhibits:

  • The 7-year plan has a total of about $216.8 million in capital improvement projects. This total includes $173.7 million under the federal mandate law and $43.1 million in TDSIC rate recovery.

  • Projects throughout Vectren South’s natural gas service territory include main replacements and upgrades to transmission and distribution pipelines.

  • If approved by the IURC, construction would start in 2014.

  • Vectren South plans to file its first gas rate increase request for these costs in September 2014. It proposes to combine recovery of federally mandated costs and TDSIC costs through a new rate recovery mechanism called the Compliance and System Improvement Adjustment (CSIA).

  • Vectren South projects that the CSIA would raise an average residential customer’s monthly bill by $1.34 in the first year. Annual rate impacts on a percentage basis are as follows:

Year

Federally mandated costs

Annual rate increases
by percentage (%)

TDSIC costs

Annual rate increases
by percentage (%)

Total Revenue

Residential Customers

Total Revenue

Residential Customers

2015

2.37

2.58

0.23

0.25

2016

3.63

3.94

0.58

0.63

2017

2.54

2.74

0.57

0.62

2018

2.43

2.60

0.56

0.60

2019

2.61

2.79

0.67

0.72

2020

2.04

2.16

0.90

0.97

2021

1.76

1.85

0.56

0.60

Source: Petitioner’s Exhibit No. SEA-3, IURC Cause No. 44429

OUCC case in chief

The OUCC filed testimony on Vectren's 7-year plans on March 21, 2014, following a four-month review. This review shows that the projects in Vectren's 7-year plans are consistent with the statutes the General Assembly approved in 2011 and 2013. The OUCC's testimony recommends that the IURC impose specific conditions if it approves the plans, including no double-recovery for infrastructure, use of the volumetric portion of gas bills (and not the fixed charge portion) for future cost recovery, the filing of an updated capital structure with each 6-month rate filing, and stricter reporting requirements.

Vectren cases in chief

Vectren's November 26, 2013 filings initiating the case are available through these links. Each document is hosted on the IURC website.

Vectren North:

Vectren South:

Additional filings, case timeline and consumer input

All filings in this case are available by visiting the IURC's Electronic Document System and entering docket number 44429.

A public field hearing will be held on April 14, 2014 in Evansville. The hearing will start at 6:00 p.m., local time, at the Old National Events Plaza (715 Locust St).

Written consumer comments are invited and can be sent to the OUCC by mail, fax or email, or through the agency’s website. Comments received by the close of business on April 21, 2014 will be filed with the IURC for inclusion in the case’s evidentiary record.

The OUCC and other parties will have until April 23, 2014 to file supplemental testimony relating to field hearing comments.

A technical evidentiary hearing will begin May 7, 2014 in Indianapolis. Evidentiary hearings are open to the public but participation is typically limited to attorney and Commission questioning of technical witnesses who have file written testimony on behalf of the case's formal parties.

Parties will file written closing arguments in the weeks following the evidentiary hearing.

Electric rates and charges are not at issue in these cases. This page will be updated based on future developments.

4-15-14