Deal reached on Indianapolis electric car sharing service to be funded by utility customers

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INDIANAPOLIS — An electric car-sharing program will cost customers of Indianapolis Power & Light Co. about 36 percent less than originally requested under a settlement the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor has reached with the utility, the agency said Thursday.

The settlement filed with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission would reduce the average cost per month per average household to 28 cents rather than 44 cents, it said.

The initial rate increase request from the utility and the city sought $16 million from ratepayers to install charging stations for the BlueIndy program and other equipment and to extend power lines to them.

BlueIndy is a partnership between the city and the France-based Bollore Group, which makes the electric cars and their lithium metal polymer batteries. Plans call for the city to have 125 rentable cars available by the end of 2014 at 25 charging sites, including the city's airport and shopping and cultural districts.

The OUCC had expressed support for the project but challenged the notion that the funding request was in the public interest. Under the settlement, "we believe this agreement is in the public interest and should be approved by the IURC," Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler said in a statement.

However, Kerwin Olson, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Citizens Action Coalition, said it continues to oppose allowing IPL to bill its customers for a service that will be used by relatively few people.

"This settlement does not change the fact that the captive ratepayers of IPL are being forced to subsidize a French multibillion-dollar corporation for a project that has nothing to do with providing electric service," Olson told the Indianapolis Business Journal.

IPL and the city agreed to other concessions under the settlement, the OUCC said:

— Any profit share the city is entitled to will go toward lowering rates until 125 percent of all ratepayers' costs have been recovered.

— The city committed to make all reasonable efforts to seek grant funding and corporate funding to help lower rates.

— IPL customers who sign up for an annual membership for BlueIndy within the first six months would receive the first two months free, or about $26.

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