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Duke Energy Helps County Move Forward In Energy Prize Contest

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Local schools and utilities are slowly becoming involved in the effort to win a nationwide energy conservation competition. This summer Monroe County passed the quarterfinals of the Georgetown University Energy Prize contest. Communities are competing to track energy use and making plans to conserve. Ian Yarbrough, a member of the County Environmental Quality and Sustainability Commission, told the Commission September 10th the local gas and electricity providers are mostly on board to help. Duke Energy has contributed to the contest by agreeing to track energy usage, while Vectren, a supposed partner initially, has backed out of its contribution.

These contributions from utility companies would aid in the contest by helping determine hot spots for energy use in the County. Those working on the competition are also in talks with schools, including the Monroe County Community School Corporation. The second round of the competition will be judged in January. The community that wins the national prize will get $5 million to put toward conservation efforts.

OUCC Accepting Public Comments On Increased Utility Rates

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The Indiana office of utility consumer counselor is accepting public comment regarding a Vectren Energy request to increase utility rates for improvements in the transmission and storage of natural gas in Indiana. The OUCC is a separate agency from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission which oversees monopoly utilities in Indiana. When a regulated utility seeks a rate increase it brings its case to the IURC, which is required to balance utility interests with consumer interests. The OUCC has a team of attorneys economists and engineers to file testimony and make recommendations on behalf on consumers. Vectren has filed a request seeking approval of a seven year plan for infrastructure improvements and approval of rate adjustments every six months to reflect the costs of the project. OUCC spokesman

All consumer comments are reviewed by OUCC’s technical staff and attorneys, and the testimony of all public comments are filed into the formal case record as evidence. While government regulated utility companies do have the right under Indiana law to pass costs of infrastructure improvements on to the consumer, the IURC and the OUCC are tasked with making sure those rates remain fairly balanced.

Regulations on utility services began when nationwide railway networks were being developed. Utility companies are uniquely regulated because the unique nature of delivering their “product” typically ensures a monopoly on that service, and an opportunity for abusing that monopoly if the government does not ensure that prices remain fair.

Consumers can view Vectren utility’s full testimony and exhibits online on the OUCC website, under the heading “We are reviewing Vectren gas infrastructure plans.” Written comments can be submitted directly on the website, or by email, fax, and postal mail.

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