It violates State Law! That’s what Indiana’s Utility Consumer Counselor says about the City’s plan to have you pay the cost of those electric cars coming here from a French company. In a MAJOR rebuff to the efforts of the City and Mayor Greg Ballard to push an electric car sharing program in Indianapolis and have Indianapolis residents pay the cost, a major voice has said electric customers shouldn’t be forced to pay. According to testimony filed by the Indiana office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), while the electric vehicle sharing program proposed by the City is a good initiative, it should be funded through sources other than utility rates. Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL) has asked the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to approve a rate increase to pay for certain start-up costs for BlueIndy, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Paris, France-based Bolloré Group. The program would be developed by the City and BlueIndy to offer cars for public use at kiosks with charging stations installed at more than 200 sites throughout Marion County. In a statement, the OUCC provides details of the plan the City hadn’t provided to local media and residents. Under IPL and thew City’s proposal, there would be a $16 million increase in IPL’s rates. This increase would cover unfunded program costs for providing electric line extensions to the charging sites (about $3.7 million) and the installation of BlueIndy charging stations and related equipment at the sites (approximately $12.3 million). In written testimony provided to the IURC, IPL estimates the proposal would raise an average residential customer’s bill (for 1,000 kilowatt hours) by 44 cents per month. The OUCC, the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the IURC, is recommending DENIAL of the requested rate increase on the grounds that it is not permitted under Indiana utility law. According to the OUCC, under the law, money collected through utility rates should go toward an electric utility’s provisioning of safe, reliable service to all customers, including recovery of operating and maintenance costs, and to pay for distribution, transmission and generating system projects that benefit ALL customers. “We appreciate the hard work and effort of the City to develop the BlueIndy project and are aware that it may provide a number of tangible benefits to the community. However, we believe that the requested rate increase does not fall within the scope of relief allowed under state utility law,” said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler. “While the OUCC has a track record of supporting the integration of alternative fuel vehicles in general and electric vehicles in particular, as well as electric vehicle support equipment technology, the costs for the unfunded portions of the project should not be imposed upon IPL customers. Other funding avenues should be explored to make the BlueIndy project successful.” IPL and the City have until July 11, 2014 to file rebuttal testimony in this case. The full IURC will hold an evidentiary hearing in this matter on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 at the PNC Center (101 W. Washington St.) in Indianapolis. While evidentiary hearings are open to the public, participation is typically limited to attorney and Commission questioning of technical witnesses who have filed written testimony on behalf of the case’s formal parties. The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) represents Indiana consumer interests before state and federal bodies that regulate utilities. As a state agency, the OUCC’s mission is to represent all Indiana consumers to ensure quality, reliable utility services at the most reasonable prices possible through dedicated advocacy, consumer education, and creative problem solving.