CenterPoint files rate hike after coal-fired power plant malfunctions

CenterPoint customers in seven southern Indiana counties could see a three-month rate hike next year as the utility seeks approval for a fuel cost adjustment.

CenterPoint Energy Indiana South filed a petition with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission on Nov. 16 that, if approved, would increase monthly electric bills by approximately $13.20 for February, March and April for its approximately 150,000 customers in southern Indiana would allow.

The amount is based on the average energy consumption of an Indiana household, which is 1,000 kilowatts per hour. The utility serves seven counties: Pike, Gibson, Dubois, Posey, Vanderburgh, Warrick, and Spencer counties.

The rate increase request comes after the utility was forced to buy power from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) network, largely because a coal-fired power plant became inoperable after a turbine failed, according to the partially-redacted testimony of CenterPoint vice president of power generation operations Wayne Games.

The turbine failed on June 24, leaving CenterPoint’s Culley Unit 3 inoperative for the remainder of 2022. Games also testified that volatile fuel costs for the coal-fired power plant were also a reason CenterPoint filed the petition.

Kerwin Olson, executive director of consumer protection group Citizens Action Coalition, said utility customers should not be expected to collect the backup power bill when a facility goes offline.