Public forum scheduled for I&M rate hike

BENTON TOWNSHIP — A public forum has been scheduled for next month to discuss Indiana Michigan Power’s rate hike request and plans for meeting the electrical needs of the region.

The Michigan Public Service Commission announced Friday that it will hold the forum from 5-7 p.m. on Oct. 7 at the Blue Lecture Hall on Lake Michigan College’s campus in Benton Township, according to a news release.

MPSC Chair Sally Talberg said the commission believes it’s important to hear directly from residents of Southwest Michigan on the utility company’s proposal.

The hearing will give I&M customers, who number about 129,000 in Michigan, a chance to speak with commissioners and MPSC staff.

Commissioners Daniel Scripps and Tremaine Phillips also will attend the forum at Lake Michigan College.

MPSC staff will offer a presentation on the integrated resource planning process and highlights of I&M’s proposal, which was filed in August and is pending before the commission.

Utility-developed integrated resource plans, which are required under the state’s energy laws, map out how companies will meet the future electric needs of their customers.

I&M filed its plan with the MPSC regarding $478 million in improvements to the Cook Nuclear Plant, along with replacing more than 1,200 poles, 40 miles of wire and other equipment, and modernizing the energy grid with high-tech equipment to cut down on outages.

The plan calls for increasing its base rates for electricity by nearly 19 percent, which would be about $36 a month for average customers.

Formal comments by attendees will become part of the public record, and a transcript of the meeting will be filed in the case docket.

If residents are unable to attend, comments can be mailed to Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909, or emailed to mpscedockets@michigan.gov.

Residents are asked to include the case number (U-20591) in correspondence to the commission.

People who have mobility, visual, hearing, or other disabilities should contact the MPSC’s executive secretary at 517-284-8090 in advance of the forum to request assistance.