Citizens Energy proposes rate hike to pay for water main breaks

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept.16, 2015) - You could be looking at a more expensive water bill next year. Citizens Energy is asking for a rate hike. The average customer could be paying around $6 more per month.

So far this year, there have been 580 water main breaks in Indy. Citizens Energy says a rate hike would go to pay to upgrade an old infrastructure that for too long has been falling apart.

“We can’t make those improvements and we can’t spend money unless we do increase rates because that’s just our business model,” said Sarah Holsapple, Spokesperson for Citizens Energy.

The company’s now considering a rate hike, on average an extra $6 per month, per customer, ultimately, looking to cut back on the frequency of water main breaks and improve the system’s aging infrastructure. The average Indy water main is around 100 years old.

Water main breaks are costing Citizens Energy a huge amount of money. There are around 700 water main breaks on average per year. The cost to repair a broken water main is about $6,000. That ultimately costs Citizens Energy $4.2 million a year to repair.

“We don’t have a lot of excess cash,” said a speaker at a public hearing for the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor about the possible rate hike.

Citizens customers got to sound off against a possible increase, to the board charged with approving it.

“Keep the cost down and where it’s fair to all,” said the same speaker.

But as long as repairs to an aging infrastructure are needed, a rate hike will be right around the corner.

“When a water main breaks, it’s very expensive for Citizens and then also ultimately, for our customers,” said Holsapple.

The rate increase will need to be approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and the Indiana office of Utility Consumer Counselor, a move that will not happen until early 2016.

Another change Citizens is requesting is for low income customers to be able to qualify for a 15 percent lower rate.