The last time Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) raised electric rates the laptop computer, HDTV, iPod, and Wii were not available to be purchased. Power transmission technology has also changed dramatically since 1993 – the last time I&M changed rates. Today, the power provider is looking to raise rates so it can adapt to the expectations power customers now have.
Today, I&M customers can provide all the energy they need in their lives for only a few dollars a day. It is always assumed that the power will be there, when demanded, at the flip of a switch. When a power interruption does occur, such as during a severe thunderstorm, I&M customers understand that their power provider is working as quickly and efficiently as they can to restore power. I&M understands that life today includes electricity as a basic necessity.
Today, the energy industry is about to be transformed by the next technological revolution. Smart power grids, clean coal, renewable power, and highly efficient power transmission are all going to transform business and improve consumers’ lives in much the same way mobile phones transformed communications and computers revolutionized productivity.
Emission-free process are available that can transform America’s most plentiful resource, coal, into clean power. Electricity can be used to power a vehicle for a work commute at a fraction of the cost of gasoline in both monetary terms and environmental costs. A smart power grid can be deployed that can notify I&M of problem areas in the grid before a power outage occurs – enabling the utility to dispatch a work crew and fix the issue much more efficiently. Consumers can use smart meters to find the best time of day, according to price, to consume energy.
I&M has committed to efficiency and cost-effective operations as it continues to introduce new technologies. I&M will work with consumer advocate representatives and regulators to guarantee new programs are designed with the customer’s best interests in mind. Rates charged by the company have been some of the lowest in Indiana, and the country, and will continue to be low. Affordable energy is essential to a strong economy.
These coming changes, of course, do involve costs. The energy industry is heavily invested in capital and the costs associated in developing that capital in the form of power plants, transmission lines, and a smart grid has risen dramatically over recent years.
For the first time since 1993, I&M has petitioned the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to allow for increased utility rates. The asked for increase is 14 percent, well below the 43 percent that the consumer price index has risen over the last 15 years. In terms of 2008 dollars, a 14 percent rate increase would still be 25 percent less than the rate charged in 1993.
Several proposals are included with I&M’s request to the IURC. Included are eight new energy-conservation programs to help I&M and its customers better manage energy consumption while saving money at the same time, and an economic development effort that will create new jobs while retaining others in the state. I&M has also proposed a new program that will share profits from the wholesale of energy with their customers.
Environmental challenges the energy industry faces can be met with the help of modern technology resulting in a cleaner, sustainable world for future generations. I&M, along with its parent company AEP, has reduced power generation emissions by 60 percent since 1980 even though demand for energy has risen by nearly 20 percent. While Indiana alone represents a small part in the global fight against climate change, I&M and its customers together can make a difference by utilizing renewable energy sources, efficient energy, and a smart power grid.
Investing in clean-coal technology will allow for the continued use of America’s most plentiful resource. Throughout the United States, coal provides over half the electricity. Within the state of Indiana, coal provides 95 percent of power. Transmission lines must be expanded to enable renewable energy sources to be connected to the power grid. Finally, investments are needed in smart grid technologies that will allow for self-correction within the power grid in order to lessen the severity of power outages during thunderstorms.
Electricity is poised to make a great technology leap and now is the time to take advantage of more reliable and efficient power.
Indiana Michigan Power
322 Dewalt Ave SW
Canton, OH 44702
American Electric Power
1 Riverside Plaza
Columbus, Ohio, USA 43215-2372