Volunteer Perspective:  Evansville Residents Show Up for Rate Hearing

Posted on 03/14/24

CenterPoint Rate Hearing
CenterPoint customers showed up in large numbers for a Feb. 29 rate hearing.

On Feb. 29, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) conducted a field hearing in Evansville to hear from customers about CenterPoint’s request for a rate increase for its electric customers.

AARP Indiana volunteer Vicki Small was there for the hearing and provided this commentary:

Having lived in Southwestern Indiana for most of my life, I know that we are people who show up for each other. We proved it on February 29.

The IURC had scheduled two hearings to allow public comment on CenterPoint’s petition to increase electric rates. The first was scheduled for 2PM and the second for 6PM. At the afternoon hearing an amazing number of people showed up. In fact, so many residents showed up that it was standing room only and the hearing continued for the entire afternoon. Due to the large crowd, officials made the right decision to move the evening session to a larger room in order to accommodate the customers wanting to hear from their neighbors and to speak about how CenterPoint’s proposed increase would impact their families. Of the hundreds who showed up to listen, around 120 people signed up to speak. By the time the hearing ended prior to 11PM, 78 people had been able to testify.

The IURC Commissioners heard from the Mayor of Evansville, Stephanie Terry, as well as other government officials from Evansville, Vanderburgh, Warrick, and Posey counties. All of them said one of the top concerns they hear from their constituents is the need for some relief from their high CenterPoint bills. They also spoke about the economic impact that the existing rates have on our community and our businesses, with people deciding either not to locate here or to leave the area because of the price of our utilities.

Well informed citizens talked about CenterPoint’s high profit margins compared to the rest of the utility providers in Indiana and the nation. Charities who help people pay citizens’ CenterPoint bills told the commission they have run out of money to help.

I was humbled by the testimony of all these folks, but the most impactful testimony were the stories told by the people who are just trying to get by.

· The family who had successfully recovered from addiction and were improving every day, until their utility bills got so high they couldn’t pay them. That led to eviction, homelessness, and death.

· The parents who have a son on a ventilator and constantly struggle to pay for medical equipment, food and electricity. The parents sometime go without eating to make sure that their electricity doesn’t get cut off.

· The retired gentleman who owns his home, but now is struggling to pay the utilities, saying he now has days when he thinks death would be welcome.

These are just a few examples of the hours of testimony from people who live in constant struggle because of the cost of electricity and heat. We all showed up at the hearings for them. I’m proud of my community, and I’m hopeful that the IURC listened to us.

For more information on utility rate cases and options for saving money on energy bills, visit aarp.org/inutilities

 

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