La PORTE — A water utility serving the Jongkind Subdivision north of La Porte is seeking a rate increase.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) announced on Wednesday that customers may comment on the rate increase requested by JB Waterworks Inc.

The OUCC, the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), is reviewing the utility's request and expects to file testimony on Jan. 21, 2020.

Along with its legal and technical review, the OUCC is inviting written consumer comments through Jan. 14, 2020.

JB Waterworks is a privately owned utility providing service to approximately 120 customers in the Jongkind Subdivision near La Porte.

Under its request, the monthly residential water bill for 5,000 gallons would rise from $27.43 to $51.39. The utility cites increases in operating, maintenance and personnel costs in its filing with the commission, along with infrastructure improvements including new meters, pipe repairs and updated billing software.

JB Waterworks' current rates were approved in 2012.

The utility is seeking the rate increase through the state's Small Utility Filing Procedure, which is available to utilities with fewer than 8,000 customers.

The procedure is designed to reduce the time and expense involved with regulatory filings. Savings are gained by allowing utility staff to use standardized forms resulting in utilities needing less assistance from rate consultants or attorneys, leading to fewer expenses that would be passed on to customers.

The standard for OUCC and IURC reviews on small utility filings is the same that applies to traditional utility filings. The OUCC conducts its review on behalf of all utility consumers while the IURC's review is conducted on behalf of the public interest (a balancing of utility and customer interests).

A settlement agreement is possible in any legal proceeding; such an agreement, if reached, would require IURC approval.

Consumers who wish to submit written comments for the case record may do so via the OUCC's website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, by email at uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov or by mail at: Consumer Services Staff, Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

The OUCC needs to receive all written consumer comments no later than Jan. 14, 2020 so that it can: 1) Consider them in preparing its testimony and 2) File them with the Commission to be included in the case's formal evidentiary record.

Comments should include the consumer's name, mailing address, and a reference to "IURC Cause No. 45311-U." Please do not include account numbers and other sensitive information. Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC's consumer services staff toll-free at (888) 441-2494.

Updates on this case are being posted on the OUCC's website at www.in.gov/oucc/2678.htm

Case updates are also available through the agency's monthly electronic newsletter. Consumers can subscribe at www.in.gov/oucc/2877.htm

—From staff reports 

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