Duke Energy Indiana agrees to settlement over grid-upgrade plan

Duke Energy Indiana said this week that it has reached a settlement with public and private consumer groups to facilitate a modernization plan for the electrical grid.

Duke said the Utility Regulatory Commission initially denied the plan upon its first submission due to a dearth of details and that the commission would rather see grid projects as a main focus for the plan.

The settlement was made with the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, Steel Dynamics, the Wabash Valley Power Association, the Hoosier Energy Rural Electric Cooperative and the Environmental Defense Fund among other groups. It consists of a seven-year plan that will include technological and infrastructure upgrades. Among the settlement terms are a reduction in capital investments gained through bill tracking services and a reduction of return on equities from 10.5 percent to 10 percent.

"This plan is about creating an energy network that makes it easier for us to prevent and respond to power outages while strengthening an electric grid that has served the state for more than a century," Duke Energy Indiana President Melody Birmingham-Byrd said. "Besides replacing aging equipment, the plan modernizes the electric grid for the type of information and services that consumers have come to expect."

The company said the plan’s benefits include fewer outages, and those that do occur after the improvements are expected to be shorter. Also, information will be more readily available to customers regarding their energy use.

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