Local utilities need to unite

Bremen Town Hall

The superintendent of Brmen electric utilities, Jay Stoneburner, has joined the chorus of board members across the state addressing an issue in the upcoming State Legislative Session.
The Town of Bremen is fortunate to be able to provide residents with our own local electric utility service,” he said.
Of the 569 municipalities in Indiana, we are one of the only 72 communities that has a municipality-owned electric utility. The benefits of our electric utility are enormous — rates are set locally, leadership is local and the power lines are service locally, which means our employees live and work here in Bremen.
Even more, if you have concerns, compliments or just want to pay your bill, you don’t have far to go for assistance. Municipal electric service is cost-effective, reliable and something of which Bremen is deservedly proud.
In the upcoming state General Assembly season, the Rural electric Membership Cooperatives (REMCs) and the investor-owned utilities, led by Duke Energy Indiana, the state’s largest electric provider, will seek to change the state’s electric service territory law by restricting the ability of municipal electric communities — such as Bremen’s — to extend electric service to new customers in newly annexed areas.
Current Indiana law provides local REMCs, investor-owned utilities and each of the municipal electric communities have assigned service areas in which they can serve their retail customers. While municipal utilities serve customers primarily within a town, REMCs serve serve customers in rural, less-populated areas. Investor-owned utilities serve those customers not in an are with an REMC or covered by a municipality-owned electric utility. The territory law has always allowed municipal electric communities to petition the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to serve annexed areas.
The REMCs and investor-owned utilities contend the municipality-owned electric utilities are annexing them out of existence.
How is this possible when the investor-owned utilities and REMCs collectively already provide electric service to 93 percent of the state’s electric customers, leaving, obviously, seven percent for the municipality-owned electric utilities? Additionally, the REMCs saw a 14 percent jump in customers between 2001 and 2012, while Indiana’s municipality-owned electric utilities gained 2.8 percent in the same time frame.
The REMC growth is five times the growth seen by municipality-owned electric utilities. To argue that municipalities with electric utilities are taking away all opportunity for the REMCs and the others to grow is insincere.
As Bremen residents, customers of our municipality-owned electric utility, the cost and quality of Bremen;s electric service could be impacted should the efforts of other utility providers lead to legislation changing the service territory law.
A change in the electric service territory law could also impact new businesses wanting to invest in Bremen and bring new jobs here. A convenient, cost-effective electric service is a core component of consideration for new companies or those wishing to relocate.
Our community should be allowed to grow and provide service to Bremen. Please oppose any effort to change Indiana’s Utility Service Territory Law.