NIPSCO to raise electric rates by 17 percent

September 21, 2010 (HAMMOND, Ind.)

NIPSCO will raise rates by nearly 17 percent. Just last month, state regulators predicted a raise of only 10 percent. The increase could not have come at a worst time for some residents struggling out of the recession.

Robert Matthews, 71, says a $1,000 NIPSCO bill two years ago forced him to move in with his sister to share expenses.

"It's utterly ridiculous in this particular time. People are having a hard time just eating. Period," said Robert Mathews, Hammond.

Janet Venecz was laid of in December. Her husband is still employed by the City of Hammond, but their family fears they'll have to cut more costs if utility rates increase.

"We're going to be expected to pay more just at the time when the weather starts getting bad. It's difficult for a lot of people," said Venecz.

"No one wants to see an increase to their bills and that's something we certainly recognize. That's why we're trying to keep bills as low as we possible can," said Nick Meyer, NIPSCO.

NIPSCO's spokesman says the hike in rates, which haven't increased for 20 years, is necessary. Last month, state regulators predicted an increase of 10 percent.

"We need to make sure our system is kept up, we purchased a new energy facility… those adjustments become necessary," said Nick Meyer, NIPSCO.

The city of Hammond and LaPorte County were among the parties that tried and failed to prevent an electricity rate increase. NIPSCO will be allowed to increase rates. The mayor of Hammond says that he will appeal the decision.

"Somebody's got to stand up and say this is inconsistent, enough is enough," said Mayor Thomas McDermott, Hammond.

"It's like you almost get ahead and someone knocks you right back down. Not a good situation right now. Not at all," said Craig Thomas, a father of five who was laid off from his job.

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