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Watchdog groups want investigation into AES Indiana power restoration after storm



Indianapolis, Indiana – Following the extensive loss of electricity at the end of June, two watchdog organizations have made a formal request for a probe into the protocols and procedures followed by AES Indiana.

On June 29, people witnessed severe storms sweeping through central Indiana, which caused the power to be cut off for 80,000 AES customers.

”When I went to check their outage map, I was pretty astonished to see the amount that was out,” said Nick Goodwin.

The storm that rolled across central Indiana caused widespread reports of damage, including the downing of trees, the breaking of power lines, and the scattering of debris over the region. However, there was no evidence of any damage where Goodwin resides.

”Absolutely none,” Goodwin said. “No lines on the ground, no posts leaning, no trees down.”

Despite this, Goodwin and his neighbors did not have access to electrical power for close to five full days.

”I’ve got a family to take care of, I’ve got things to plan for,” he said. “There was just no real direct communication. By the time it got to Monday, it was just more defeat than anything else.”

This was the same location as a large number of other people. On Monday, the fifth day after the storm, there were still close to 4,000 individuals who did not have electricity and who had been without it since Thursday.

Goodwin counted as one of the individuals. When workers arrived that afternoon to fix the wires behind his house, he was fortunate enough to have power restored to his home.

”They got up there, effectively, seemed like they flipped a switch,” Goodwin said. “And I don’t know what magic goes on under the hood, but it was up almost as quickly as they got here.”

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, also known as OUCC, and the Citizen Action Coalition, also known as CAC, have submitted a request to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission requesting an investigation into the procedure that AES uses to restore electricity.

”We got a lot of calls from customers saying, ‘We’ve been out of power for days,’ we’ve gotten a lot of consumers saying, ‘We’ve had to throw away our food.’ There is a lot of public concern about this issue,” said Olivia Rivera, the spokesperson for OUCC.

She stated that they are interested in obtaining the facts on what took place from the probe.

“Customers deserve to have confidence in their utilities, they deserve to know they’re safe, they are reliable,” she said.

The OUCC is interested in receiving feedback from the general public as part of this process.

”We’re also asking the public to send us their input, to tell us what happened, what did they experience,” Rivera said.

In addition to this public appeal for feedback, the OUCC is also soliciting the opinions of AES customers about the request that AES has made for a rate increase.

Late in the month of June, AES Indiana submitted a proposal to increase rates by 13%, which would amount to around $17 for the typical monthly payment for a household. The purpose of this rate hike, according to a representative for AES, is to assist in covering the expense of operational rates.

Rivera stated that the request by AES for a rate increase is currently being reviewed by the team of experts at OUCC.

”Trying to understand what’s the utility asking for, are there any potential ways we could save consumers money in that regard, is this increase justified, is it necessary?,” she said.

On the website of the OUCC, individuals have the opportunity to provide their feedback to the OUCC regarding the outages as well as the proposed rate hike, if they so want.

At this point, it is anticipated that the request for an investigation will be examined by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

This statement was sent by AES as a reaction.

“AES Indiana is aware of the petition filed by the OUCC and CAC requesting a review of our electric service restoration work following the June 29, 2023 storm, which was one the worst storms in the past decade. The June 29th storm was classified as a derecho, which is a widespread wind storm that created a swath of damage extending more than 240 miles with wind gusts of at least 58 mph. The damage from the derecho resulted in a multi-day restoration process. AES Indiana safely followed procedures conducted in accordance with our established storm response plan. Being there when our customers need us the most, like during this storm, is something we prepare for year-round. AES Indiana will cooperate with any inquiry from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.”