From RTO Insider
Regulators OK Duke’s $1.4B Indiana Grid Modernization
By Amanda Durish Cook
July 4, 2016
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission on Wednesday accepted a settlement negotiated between Duke Energy and local consumer groups on a statewide infrastructure upgrade plan.
The seven-year, $1.4 billion plan results in an average 0.93% increase in Duke Energy Indiana customer rates annually over the next seven years. Individually, the year-long increases range from 0.58% to 1.35% until 2023.
The IURC found that “public convenience and necessity require” Duke’s planned transmission, distribution and storage improvements.
The settlement was reached in March among the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, Duke Energy Indiana, steelmaker Companhia Siderurgica Nacional, Steel Dynamics, Wabash Valley Power Association, Indiana Municipal Power Agency, Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative and the Environmental Defense Fund.
“We are happy with the settlement,” said Anthony Swinger, director of external affairs for the IOUCC. “We believe the settlement strikes the right balance between ratepayer protection and the utilities’ need to make infrastructure improvements in order to provide safe, dependable service.”
“We have an aging energy grid — some equipment that is decades old — and our work will focus on replacing some older infrastructure to reduce power outages,” Duke Energy Indiana President Melody Birmingham-Byrd said.
“We’ll also be building a smarter energy structure with technology to provide the type of information and services that consumers have come to expect.”
Duke plans to invest in line sensors and “self-healing” systems, as well as replace aging substations, utility poles, power lines and transformers.
A little over a year ago, the IURC denied Duke Energy Indiana’s original proposal, causing the utility to trim $400 million from the plan, including the elimination of a $192 million project to install smart meters. The company now says that if it pursues smart meters using the settlement, it is “committed to exploring energy efficiency pilot programs that are now possible with smart meter technology.”
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