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Public Comment Sought on NIPSCO Plan

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor is seeking feedback from the public on Northern Indiana Public Service Company's 713-million-dollar plan for improvements in the utility company's natural gas transmission, distribution and storage system. Under a new state law approved this year, NIPSCO is seeking a rate increase that would amount to just below one-and-a-half percent annually through 2020, with no increase next year, and a one-percent rate increase in 2015.
This is separate from NIPSCO’s proposed one-billion dollar plan to improve its electric infrastructure, which would raise electric rates through 2020, with the first increase of 0.4 percent taking effect in 2015, and increases growing each year, reaching 1-point-7 percent in 2020.
Here's more info from the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor:
(News Release) The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is inviting written comments from Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) customers on the utility’s $713 million plan for natural gas transmission, distribution and storage system improvements. NIPSCO intends to seek incremental gas rate recovery of the costs as the projects proceed, through a new rate adjustment mechanism. 
The OUCC – the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) – is reviewing the utility’s plan and has not yet taken a position in the pending IURC case. The OUCC anticipates completing its review and filing testimony on January 10, 2014.
NIPSCO has filed its request under a new Indiana law (Senate Enrolled Act 560) approved earlier this year.
  • The law allows an investor-owned electric or natural gas utility to seek IURC approval of a seven-year infrastructure improvement plan.
  • If the plan is approved, the utility may then adjust rates every 6 months, subject to IURC and OUCC review, to recover project costs as they are incurred.
  • The rate adjustments – under a new Transmission, Distribution, and Storage System Improvement Charge (TDSIC) mechanism – may not exceed two percent of the utility’s total retail revenues each year.
  • Twenty percent of the costs must be deferred until the utility’s next base rate case, which must be filed before the end of the seven-year period.
NIPSCO’s testimony and exhibits in IURC Cause No. 44403 state that:
  • The proposed projects throughout its natural gas service territory would be built from 2014 through 2020.
  • Projects would include replacement of aging infrastructure, installation of new transmission mains, the installation of automated valves, and expansion into rural areas that currently do not have natural gas service.
  • NIPSCO plans to file its first TDSIC natural gas rate increase request in September 2014.
  • If the 7-year plan is approved by the IURC, NIPSCO’s first natural gas TDSIC rate increase of approximately 1.0 percent would take effect in 2015. The annual rate increase amounts from 2016 through 2020 would vary annually, ranging from 1.5 percent to 1.9 percent each year. The average annual percentage increase over the 7-year term is 1.4 percent.
  • Under the new law’s timing requirements, the IURC must issue a final order on the 7-year plan no later than May 1, 2014.
A group of NIPSCO’s industrial consumers (including ArcelorMittal USA and BP Products North America, Inc.) has formally intervened in this case and is also expected to file testimony on January 10, 2014.
For more information on this case and the new law, please visit www.in.gov/oucc/2750.htm.
This proposal – referred to by NIPSCO as its Natural Gas Infrastructure Modernization Plan – is separate from the utility’s electric infrastructure plan. For information on NIPSCO’s electric plan and cases, please visit www.in.gov/oucc/2747.htm.
An IURC technical evidentiary hearing in the natural gas case is scheduled to start February 10, 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 expert witnesses who have filed technical testimony on behalf of the case’s formal parties.
Consumers who wish to submit written comments may do so via the OUCC’s Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, or by mail, email or fax:
  • Mail: Consumer Services Staff
    Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
    115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
    Indianapolis, IN 46204
  • email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   
  • Fax: (317) 232-5923
Written comments the OUCC receives by January 3, 2014 will be filed with the Commission and included in the case’s formal evidentiary record. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to “IURC Cause No. 44403.
Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.
(IURC Cause No. 44403)
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.
Visit us at www.IN.gov/OUCC , www.twitter.com/IndianaOUCC or www.facebook.com/IndianaOUCC

 
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Local Leaders Dancing For Charity

dlts
The Duneland Y is hosting their annual Dancing Like the Stars Fundraiser this weekend to raise much needed funds for their Family Assistance Program. If you love the TV show, you'll wanna  come watch eight local community leaders battle it out on the dancefloor! Local celebrities include: Mike Anton, Laura Gerhardt, Rick Lewis, Jacci Moore, Ann Marie Riley, Nancy Sutton, Nancy Veselica and Kyle Yelton.
To purchase tickets or vote for your favorite contestant contact the Duneland Y in  Chesterton at 219.926.4204. Be sure to listen to Annie's full interview at News Audio On Demand here on our website....
 

Region Invited To Soup Bowl Dinner

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The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana is holding a Soup Dinner this Sunday and you are invited. The Empty Bowls Project will be held Sunday at Temple Israel (601  N. Montgomery) in Gary from 1-3pm. Tickets are $5 and all money raised will  benefit The Food Bank's mission. Last year the Food Bank distributed over 5.1 million pounds of food, and served over 5,000 individuals a week. For more on the Empty Bowls Project listen to our full interview with Food Bank Advocacy Manager, Megan Sikes at News Audio Audio On Demand....
 

Give Day Sets New Mark

giveday
Yesterday's Porter County Give Day surpasses last year's total. By late Thursday afternoon, more than 200-thousand dollars had already been collected through walk-in and online and matching gifts for the Porter County Community Foundation's “Porter County Give Day,” a 24-hour event Thursday where a portion of each online donation was being matched from a 75-thousand dollar match pool from various donations and sponsors. According to portercountygiveday-dot-org this morning, over 280-thousand dollars was collected to benefit kids via 25 participating nonprofits. Donations were collected online through 11:59 pm last night. Last year's Give Day total was 186-thousand dollars. ...
 

Noll Girls Going for State Championship

The Bishop Noll Institute Girls Volleyball Team will be competing for a class 2A state championship tomorrow. The Warriors will take on Providence at 12pm (Central) at Ball State University.
Schedule info:  www.ihsaa.org...
 

Prep Football Tourney Showdowns Tonight

There are some big match-ups in tonight's prep football tournament.  In class 6A... the 9-2 Lake Central Indians host the unbeaten Penn Kingsmen at the Burial Grounds in St. John for a Regional Championship.  Meanwhile, classes 1 thru 5A will be playing for Sectional Championships.  Munster travels to Mishawaka... New Prairie visits South Bend St. Joseph... 11-0 Winamac is at West Central... Unbeaten Andrean is at John Glenn... and some playing field musical chairs tonight, as the Rensselaer Bombers take on Bowman Academy at Central High School in East Chicago... while the big 4A showdown between East Chicago Central and Gary West Side will be played at Morton High School in Hammond.  
Schedule info: www.ihsaa.org...
 

Historic Low for Workplace Injuries and Illnesses

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Workplace injuries and illnesses in Indiana have fallen to a historic low. The Indiana Department of Labor annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses report for 2012 showed four out of every 100 workers sustained a non-fatal illness or injury on the job, the lowest rate since the survey was introduced in its current form in 1992. The rate also represents a one-year decline of more than seven percent from 2011, and the first drop since 2009. State officials say the most significant improvement among the major Hoosier industries was in the state’s mining industry. [Graph/Indiana Department of Labor]
News Release: INDIANAPOLIS (Nov. 7, 2013) – Today the Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL) released its annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) report for 2012. Indiana’s non-fatal occupational injury and illness rate is 4.0 per 100 workers, the lowest experienced since the survey was introduced in its current form in 1992. The 2012 rate represents a one-year decline of more than seven percent from 2011 and marks the first time the rate has declined since 2009.
“Every Hoosier should be proud that Indiana’s workplaces are some of the safest and healthiest in the nation,” said Governor Mike Pence. “The continuing decline in the number of occupational injuries and illnesses demonstrates the dedication of employers, employees, trade associations, and professional organizations, and proves again, that Indiana is the place to do business.”
The most significant improvement among the major Hoosier industries was in the state’s mining industry (2.6 per 100 workers). The mining industry experienced a one-year decline of nearly 45 percent in non-fatal worker injuries and illnesses. The coal mining sub-industry experienced a 16 percent decline in non-fatal worker injuries and illnesses from 2011.
Some findings in the 2012 report include:
The overall state non-fatal injury and illness rate for 2012 is 4.0 per 100 workers, the lowest rate since the SOII report was introduced in its current form in 1992. The 2012 rate represents a one-year decline of seven percent from the 2011 rate.
The mining industry experienced the greatest one-year decline in non-fatal worker injuries and illnesses, 45 percent.
Nearly all major Indiana industry categories experienced a reduction in non-fatal worker injuries and illnesses in 2012.
The IDOL’s emphasis industries of agriculture, healthcare and transportation all experienced a decrease in non-fatal workplace injuries and illnesses—agriculture (-24.2 percent), healthcare (-15.9 percent) and transportation (-2.2 percent).
The following major industry categories experienced an increase in non-fatal worker injuries and illnesses from 2011 to 2012: state and local government (+11 percent); arts, entertainment and recreation (+6 percent); and manufacturing (+2 percent).
For more information about the SOII, please visit: http://www.in.gov/dol/2341.htm
The IDOL will also release its annual occupational safety and health publication, IN Review, in early 2014....
 

Two Lake County Elected Officials Oppose Illiana

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Rep. Niemeyer, Councilman Strong
Republicans Lowell State Representative Rick Niemeyer and Lake County Councilman Eldon Strong of Crown Point Thursday announced they have taken a stand against the proposed Illiana Expressway.  They're urging members of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission to not include the project in NIRPC's 2040 plan, a vote scheduled in December.  The highway would travel by Lowell through south Lake County connecting I-65 to I-55 in Illinois. Strong says money would be better spent on existing projects, like the Gary/Chicago International Airport expansion and revitalizating the Region's Lake Michigan lakefront. [Photos/Lake County; Indiana House of Representatives]...
 

Disney to Release New Star Wars Film in December 2015

Charge up those light sabers and break out those Stormtrooper uniforms - we now know exactly when we'll get to see the next Star Wars film. ABC News reports Disney has set a date for Star Wars episode VII - for December 18th, 2015. Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn says the date gives them time to make it great, and it will anchor the holiday film going season. Winter is probably a smart move because that summer is SUPER crowded, with the next Avengers, Jurassic Park, Terminator 5, Independence Day 2, and a little movie called Batman and Superman. ...
 

Habitat for Humanity to Receive Grant for Homes in Gary

City of Gary
In Gary tomorrow, representatives from the JP Morgan-Chase Foundation will be presenting a check for over 74-thousand dollars to Habitat for Humanity. The grant is scheduled to be awarded during a ceremony in Gary City Hall at 10:30am. The grant will be used for the construction of homes in the 17-hundred block of Adams Street, otherwise known as the “Field of Dreams.” ...
 

Valpo Employee Food Drive Now Through 11/11

City of valpo
The City of Valparaiso is currently conducting its “City Employee Food Drive”, which runs through November 11th. The food collected will be distributed to nearby food pantries for local families for the holiday season. You can drop off food items or financial donations at Valparaiso's Town and County or Strack and Van Til on Saturday, November 9th. Residents can also give at Valparaiso City Hall anytime through November 11th, during normal business hours, 8:30am to 4:30pm.  If you would like to make a financial contribution or give after business hours, you may contact Jeffry Van Syoc, city employee and organizer of the food drive at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  ...
   

Revenue in Indiana Down Compared to 2012

Revenue for the state of Indiana failed to meet expectations during the first third of this budget year. From the July through October period, income tax revenue came in four-point-nine percent less than during the same period a year ago, totaling 76-point-six million dollars and the corporate tax revenue and riverboat wagering tax revenue were down about twice what was anticipated. Overall state revenue was down one-point-five percent compared to last year, at 64-point-five million.
On the bright side, October revenue came in at nine-million dollars above what was forecast, totaling one-point-zero-five billion, but that is still down three-point-three percent from what was taken in in October of 2012. ...
   

Bears Fan Charged with Tazing His Packer Fan Wife

A Chicago Bears fan has been charged and could face up to 6 years in prison, after allegedly tazing his Packer fan wife following a bet on the Monday night football game. ABC News reports Wisconsin Bar owner Chris Neu says its started as a friendly bet between the man and his wife... "Everybody walked outside, and she assumed the position on the wall. She put two hands on the wall. And he walked behind her and zapped her on the butt." He says the first two shocks were consensual...But the third time set his wife off. "She was talking to people, and he had come out of the bathroom, and he snuck up behind her, and he goosed her with it one last time." They got into a fight, she called police. John Grant is now charged with illegal possession of an electric weapon. ...
   

Safe Family Travel Enforcement Blitz 11/8-12/1

Indiana State Police logo
Indiana State Police are joining approximately 250 other law enforcement agencies across the state to make the upcoming Thanksgiving Day Holiday travel period safer. The annual “Safe Family Travel" campaign effort begins tomorrow and continues through December 1st. Law enforcement will be conducting high visibility enforcement efforts, including check points and saturation patrols, targeting drivers and unrestrained motorists.
Please help do you part to make the Thanksgiving Holiday travel period safe by observing the following safety rules:
-  If you are planning to travel make sure you are well rested, a fatigued driver is a dangerous driver
-  Avoid tailgating; remember the two-second rule
-  Make sure everyone is buckled up
-  Put down the electronic devices and drive
-  DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE
-  MOVE OVERr emergency and highway service vehicles...

   

Longtime Highland School Board Member Dies

larry vassar
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A longtime Highland School Board member died this morning. The Times reports 78 year old Larry Vassar, who spent 32 years as a school board member, reportedly died in his sleep. According to the article, Vassar was a strong community supporter who loved his church and the town. The school board has 30 days to fill the remaining 13 months left on Vassar's term. Those who maybe interested are asked to contact the Highland School Board....
   

Westville Correctional Center Employee Arrested

Joseph Altemus
(Photo Courtesy of the LaPorte County Sheriff's Office)
For the second time this week a Westville Correctional Center employee has been arrested. The LaPorte County Sheriff's Office reports 26 year old Joseph Altemus, of LaPorte, was arrested Wednesday on a warrant for one-count of dealing a controlled substance, in this case hydrocodone, which is a felony. The warrant had been issued as a result of an investigation initiated by the LaPorte County Metro Operations Unit.
On Monday, a 51 year old Michigan City woman employed as a corrections officer at the prison was arrested for allegedly trafficking to prisoners. Prison officials did not disclosed what was being trafficked, other than saying the item was not an illegal substance. ...
   

I-65 Lane Restrictions In Lake County Friday

Indot Logo color
I-65, between US 30 and US 231, will have lane restrictions in place starting tomorrow in both the north and southbound lanes. INDOT reports crews will be patching stretches of the roadway requiring the closure of the driving lane of northbound and southbound I-65 in this area. Drivers are being asked to remain especially alert in this work zone due to the heavy congestion in the area....
   

Valparaiso Man Charged with Rape and Incest

A 41 year old Valparaiso man was arrested Wednesday night on numerous felony charges, including rape and incest. Valparaiso Police say on October 28th, the victim's mother and grandparents informed police of an incident that had occurred this summer, between the victim and the suspect. Police investigated and learned of two separate incidents where the suspect had sexually battered the victim. The suspect is charged with two-counts of criminal confinement, two-counts of incest and two-counts of rape and at last check was being held in the Porter County Jail. ...
   

Lake Co Salvation Army Red Kettle Kick-Off in Highland

The Salvation Army of Lake County is celebrating the start of the holiday season this evening (Thu Nov 7) at their Red Kettle Campaign Kick-Off Ceremony at Strack and Van Til, 9632 Cline Avenue, Highland, at 5 pm. The event will include a musical performance by The Salvation Army East Chicago Youth Band and Singing Company and hot chocolate for everyone. 2013 Lake County Advisory Board Chair Tom DeGiulio, Munster Town Manager, will kick off the campaign. The evening will wrap-up with the lighting of a six-foot tall red kettle. The event is free and open to the public. The Red Kettle campaign generates nearly 70-percent of the funds used year-round to provide programs and services to those in need. The iconic red kettles will hit the streets in Lake County Friday, November 8th. This year's goal for Lake County, Indiana, is 940-thousand dollars....
   

Lake Co Govt Workers to Be Honored for Military Service

In Crown Point, about one-hundred veterans of the Armed Forces will be honored in a special ceremony, Friday November 8, 10am, leading up to Veterans Day.  Those veterans are all Lake County Government employees, men and women who have served in the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force, representing a total of nearly five-hundred years of combined service, that includes wars and conflicts that span a half-century, from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan. They'll be individually recognized at the Lake County Government Center at 93rd and Main in Crown Point, in the Auditorium of Building "B", and Ray Guiden, Service Officer in the Lake County Veterans Service Office, told the Region News Team the public is invited.  The veterans are employed across over twenty different offices of Lake County Government. You can hear our interview today with Ray Guiden at News  Audio on Demand here at our website.
...
   

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