Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What does a regulatory review of natural gas base rates mean? Unlike most companies, which can change the price of their product/service without outside approval, regulated energy providers – like NIPSCO – must submit a detailed request to change their rates. The request includes evidence to support the increase and demonstrate how it will benefit customers.

    This process is called a rate case, and NIPSCO’s approval must come from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC). Ultimately, the goal of our proposal, under the nearly year-long review process, is to strike the right balance of cost and service in order to continue delivering on our commitments to customers.

  2. Do customers have a voice in the review process? Yes, it’s important that customers understand you have a voice in the process in multiple ways – through written comments to the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, at public field hearings and via various consumer advocacy organizations that participate in the process.

  3. Why now? Why do rates need to increase? Affordable rates and quality service are important. It has been more than 25 years since NIPSCO’s base natural gas rates have increased, and in 2010, a regulatory review led to a slight decrease

    Since that time, NIPSCO has regularly been the lowest-cost provider in Indiana – and among the lowest-cost providers in the nation – while improving service to customers.

    Meanwhile, the cost to comply with state and federal safety standards has increased, and the company has made additional investments in its aging gas delivery system to improve service to its 820,000 customers across 32 northern Indiana counties, while maintaining and monitoring more than 17,800 miles of natural gas pipelines.

    Those costs exceed what customers are paying in current bills. Some of the cost increases and future changes include:

    • More than $400 million in system upgrades, technology improvements and other investments to increase pipeline safety and reliability, with plans for future continued investments
    • Monthly customer charge estimated to increase from $11 to $19.50 to reflect more of the actual fixed costs to serve customers regardless of usage
    • Increased labor and material costs associated with infrastructure and service improvements
  4. How and when would natural gas bills be affected? NIPSCO anticipates that, with the newly proposed rates, it will remain among the lowest-cost providers.

    NIPSCO is proposing new rates that would be phased in over two steps, with the first occurring in mid-2018 and new rates fully in place by early 2019. A residential customer using 69 therms per month, paying $50 today, would see an overall increase of approximately $10 per month.

    The total overall requested increase would be about $143.5 million annually.

  5. Has NIPSCO been effectively managing costs? Yes. Managing company costs while maintaining affordable and competitive rates has been and will continue to be a key part of NIPSCO’s approach to serving customers. Like any business, we are focused on creating efficiencies, maximizing productivity and streamlining processes. Specific efforts include:

    • Utilization of natural gas purchasing and storage strategies to negotiate and acquire the lowest prices for our customers
    • Improved safety performance, leading to greater productivity and less downtime
    • Careful monitoring of and adherence to internal operating budgets and investments
    • Utilization of advanced metering to help eliminate the need for manual readings

    Year after year, NIPSCO is proud to have served as the lowest-cost gas provider in Indiana and among the lowest nationally.

  6. How has NIPSCO improved service to its customers? It's important for customers to understand what they're paying for and that they're getting a good value. Service to customers has continued to improve, and NIPSCO’s request seeks to further its commitment to customers in several ways, including:

    • Being the only energy provider in the state that allows customers the option to choose who they purchase their natural gas from
    • Serving as Indiana’s lowest-cost natural gas provider and among the lowest in the nation
    • Providing faster response times to emergency customer calls
    • Upgrading and replacing old, vintage underground pipes with more modern materials
    • Being among industry leaders for fewest leaks on underground lines
    • Reducing service appointment windows
    • Helping to eliminate estimated bills by replacing nearly all customer meters with more advanced meters
    • Offering programs to help customers save energy and become more energy efficient
    • Continuing to provide bill payment assistance for low-income customers
    • Continuing to use smart technologies to inspect and detect abnormal pipeline conditions
  7. If you haven’t increased your rates for such a long time, why have I noticed changes in my bill?Base rates, which reflect the primary cost to serve customers regardless of their usage, have not increased. However, market costs for natural gas (which are directly passed through to customers) can fluctuate, affecting overall bills. And some components of customer bills have gone up or down periodically under a smaller portion of the bill called “trackers,” which reflect and track certain specific aspects of your service. Examples include the cost associated with administering energy savings programs changes or approved infrastructure investments. Trackers can be a charge or a credit.

    NIPSCO’s request covers those costs as well as all others that have increased since that last base rate case, such as increased investments to upgrade/replace portions of the natural gas system and increased labor and material costs that customers aren’t paying for today.

  8. Does increasing the fixed monthly customer charge discourage energy efficiency? No. Just like today, customers who use less natural gas in the future will spend less otherwise. And being energy efficient can continue to have a positive effect on a customer’s bill.

    Today, residential customers pay a monthly customer charge of $11 – a separately itemized portion of the bill – which helps account for those fixed costs to maintain a customer regardless of usage (e.g., maintaining the pipes that ultimately connect service, responding to emergencies, reading meters, maintaining account information, etc.).

    Increasing the customer charge also gives customers a clearer picture of how energy use affects their bill by better separating out the fixed portion of bills versus the portion that is variable.

    Additionally, increasing the customer charge further stabilizes customer bills throughout the year, especially during the winter, when bills are typically higher because of colder temperatures and increased usage.

  9. Are costs for charitable giving included in NIPSCO’s request? No. NIPSCO is proud to support hundreds of charitable organizations across the communities it serves, but those costs are not part of this request.

  10. Does NIPSCO offer any bill payment assistance for those who need it most? Yes. Any increase in a customer’s bill matters. It is our goal to work with customers to identify solutions. NIPSCO offers a variety of options for customers who are experiencing difficulty with their bill – including low-income customers.

    Outside of the state and federal energy assistance programs and moratorium on winter service disconnections, NIPSCO provides funding for an additional bill reduction program, credit arrangements, budget plans and reduced deposits for eligible customers.

    Customers experiencing difficulty with their bill – regardless of their income – are encouraged to contact us to determine what help might be available to them.

  11. Does NIPSCO offer incentives for customers to be more energy efficient? Yes. NIPSCO promotes a variety of programs and incentives designed to help all customers be more energy efficient, including free in-home energy assessments, equipment rebates, weatherization and more.

  12. Does this request change bills for NIPSCO electric customers? No.