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Great Lakes Article:

State utility board sets water rate hike hearing
Northwest Indiana Post-Tribune

GARY - Customers of Indiana-American Water Co. will have a chance Tuesday to tell a state agency what they think of paying more for water.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, which sets Indiana-Americanís rates, will hold a public hearing on the investor-owned water companyís latest rate increase proposal.

The hearing will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Savannah auditorium at Indiana University Northwest, 3400 Broadway.

Indiana-American is asking the IURC for a 14.7 percent increase in its water rates in Northwest Indiana.

The German-owned water company has customers in Gary, Portage, Merrillville, Hobart, Chesterton, Burns Harbor and South Haven.

The proposed rate increase comes less than two years after the IURC approved a two-step, 38 percent jump in rates.

In November 2002, state regulators allowed Indiana-American to increase its rates by 18.1 percent immediately and up to 20.2 percent later.

The water company got that rate increase to recoup the cost of building a new water intake tunnel into Lake Michigan.

This time, it is asking for a rate increase to recover the cost of two purchases ó Northwest Indiana Water Co. in 1999 and the Turkey Creek water utility in 2002 ó and to pay for higher security, operating and maintenance costs.

Another state agency, the Indiana Office of Consumer Counselor, will have an information session at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday ó just before the IURC hearing.

That session will be to explain the regulatory process, describe hearing procedures and answer questions.

The consumer counselorís office is the state agency that represents customers in rate cases. It will file written testimony on Indiana-Americanís case on or before Feb. 24.

Indiana-American serves about 273,000 customers in 21 Indiana counties, including about 66,000 in Northwest Indiana.

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