Indy Day of Action: The Fight Against IPL’s Proposed Rate IncreasesPosted on: April 15, 2018, by : Mary Ann Felt
By Jeff Turner
The Sierra Club hosted the Indy Day of Action Saturday at the Indianapolis Interfaith Church. The subject of the event was the proposed rate increases by Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), which services most of Marion County. Due to the weather the event was largely held inside and included phone banking and letter writing, though as conditions improved some of the over twenty people who attended canvased neighborhoods in an effort to inform people about IPL’s rate hike, which could potentially raise the fixed rate of monthly electric bills by 59%. IPL customers already pay the highest fixed charge in the state of investor-owned utilities. The fear that many have is that the fixed rate increase would disproportionately affect lower-income families, and lead to customers being less likely to invest in renewable energy.
“I’ve been helping with the campaign for a while,” said Kim Saylor, an Indianapolis resident in regards to why she came to the event. “I want Indiana to get on the clean energy ball. I don’t want them to raise the rates so why wouldn’t I help?”
Only 10% of the power produced by IPL comes from renewable energy sources.
“I have been volunteering with the Sierra Club since the Harding Street campaign. And through those experiences I’ve been able to see an intersection between economic and environmental justice on the lives of everyday Hoosiers,” said Lynette Taylor, a community organizer for the Indianapolis Worker’s Justice Center. “I have seen change happen so I will continue to press for it.” The Mayor’s office and City-County Council have been silent on this issue, and the letter writing campaign was directed towards them. “IPL promised Indianapolis lawmakers streetlights in exchange for no action,” Taylor added when asked why no action had been taken. As of now, this claim has not been independently verified.
The environment factored into the decision for most of the attendees to come to the event. “(I am) concerned about the environment, support renewable energy and am against the type that pollutes,” said Jeffrey Crabtree. He cited IPL as an example of one of the causes of pollution in Indianapolis. When asked whether he felt the Mayor or the City-County Council would take action, he said, “I would hope so. It’s pretty overwhelming. I think a lot of people are concerned but they’re politicians. IPL and the coal industry are putting a lot of money on the table, which makes it a real challenge.”
Other people’s concerns were more related to the effects the rate increase would have on low-income families as well as those with fixed incomes. “My concern is for myself as well as low income people in my neighborhood who may be affected by the rate increase. May be hard for their kids, will be,” said Phil Graybiel, a Sierra Club volunteer and Christian Theological Seminary student, who also cited the effects the rate increase could have on fellow students.
IPL’s proposal is very complicated and difficult for many to grasp; many at the event feeling that this was intentional. The event organizers did hold a presentation to better educate attendees on the fixed rate increase and its potential effects.
Two public hearings are being held on the issue, one on April 23rd at 6:00pm at Arsenal Tech High School, and the other on May 7th at 6:00pm at New Augusta North Middle School. Also planned for Thursday April 19th is a Faith Letter Rally that will take place at the City Market downtown at 11:30 a.m.
But will change actually occur that could halt the proposed fixed rate increase? Saylor had this to say in response this question: “We’ve got a lot of people involved and if they (IPL) want to listen to their customers, something could be done.”
The case was filed with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in the Winter of 2017. They have three hundred days to decide the case. For now though, activists are highly motivated to see that the proposal is defeated, going out into their communities in an effort to spread the word about IPL’s fixed rate increase and get others involved in combating what is viewed as an unjust and unfair burden upon the company’s customers.