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Wastewater Rate Increase to Fund Federally-Mandated System Improvements

INDIANAPOLIS- An agreement between Citizens Energy Group, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) and the Industrial Group to increase customers’ wastewater rates now has approval from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC). The approved agreement means Citizens’ average residential wastewater bill will increase approximately $8.50 per month beginning in August 2016 and approximately $2.50 per month in 2017. The current average residential bill is about $35 per month, depending on usage.
“We know rate increases have a significant impact on household budgets, that’s why we always implement process improvements to control costs and enhance customer service,” said Jeffrey Harrison, President and CEO of Citizens. “Rate increases are necessary to fund federally-mandated improvements to our city’s century-old sewer system—a system that currently overflows five billion gallons of raw sewage into area waterways each year.”
Since acquiring the system in 2011, Citizens has invested more than $774 million, thus preventing more than two billion gallons of raw sewage from overflowing into area waterways each year. This increase will fund an additional $425 million of system improvements over the next two years. Projects to be funded by the increase include:
  • DigIndy Tunnel System – Work is underway on a 28-mile network of 18-foot diameter tunnels located 250 feet beneath the ground and stretching across Marion County. The first nine miles of the tunnel system will be complete in 2017. When DigIndy is finished in the year 2025, it will prevent up to 99% of sewer overflows from reaching area waterways. To learn more, click here.
  • Septic Tank Elimination Program (STEP) - Indianapolis also has more than 8,000 failing septic systems spread across the county that are leaching sewage into ditches, ground water and streams. Through STEP, Citizens has already extended sewer service to approximately 10,000 homes in Marion County. By extending sewers to areas that currently have failing septic tanks, Citizens is preventing sewage from reaching ground water and area waterways. To learn more about STEP, click here.
  • Treatment Plant Expansion – When finished, this project will double the capacity of the Southport Sewage Treatment Plant. Doubling the plant’s capacity will be necessary to capture the additional sewage collected from the DigIndy tunnel system and from the additional homes that will be connected to the sewer system.
As part of the initial filing, Citizens proposed a low-income rate that would have provided a 15 percent discount to low-income customers who qualified for the Indiana Energy Assistance Program. That proposal was not included in the settlement.

“The Commission’s order strikes a necessary balance in protecting consumer interests while allowing Citizens to move forward with needed major projects addressing combined sewer overflows and other environmental concerns,” said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler. “While the OUCC worked diligently to identify as many cost savings as possible, the settlement agreement’s terms will result in sewer utility investments that will benefit customers for many years to come.”

About Citizens Energy Group

Citizens Energy Group provides safe and reliable utility services to about 800,000 people in the Indianapolis area. Citizens operates its utilities only for the benefit of customers and the community. Additional information is available online at Facebook - Twitter - LinkedIn - YouTube

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