Crawfordsville Electric Light & Power customers are poised to see slightly higher bills later this summer.
CEL&P is seeking approval for a 5% rate increase in July to fund planned infrastructure upgrades, including a new substation on Memorial Drive. The average residential customer would pay an extra $7 per month if the increase is approved.
The new rates, which received a favorable recommendation Monday from the City Council’s Fiscal Affairs Committee, are part of a two-step increase first proposed last year. Rates are set to rise another 5% beginning in July 2022. Utility regulators approved the increase, which was phased in due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bills already went up in October when a temporary 3.2% rider took effect to make up for a calculation error in the previous rate study. Even with the increase, rates will still be 20% lower than most other investor-owned Indiana energy providers, CEL&P manager Phil Goode said.
From the 1960s into the new century, CEL&P built a new substation once every decade. The last one was built in 2002.
The planned Memorial Drive substation will ease some of the energy load on Crawfordsville’s north and east sides. Indiana Municipal Power Agency’s five local solar parks provide about half of the city’s daytime energy demand.
Among the other planned infrastructure improvements include replacing transmission poles.
“Our system’s in really good shape, but there’s some areas we need to upgrade,” Goode said.
The council committee also gave a favorable recommendation to extend the power supply agreement with IMPA for eight years to 2050. The proposed new agreement includes a 30-year termination notice. The city has been purchasing electricity from IMPA since the 1980s.
Extending the agreement will allow IMPA to obtain more favorable bond rates for new projects, such as building new generating plants to replace retiring units, said Brian Brackemyre, IMPA’s vice president of member services.
More than 66% of IMPA’s energy is coal-based. The provider says it can cut its carbon output to zero by 2050 without having a major impact on consumer rates. IMPA’s total average wholesale rates have declined by 2.1% since 2017.
Following the Fiscal Affairs Committee’s recommendations, both proposals move to the full council for a vote.