HAMMOND, Ind. -- Not in this economy, and not if the boss is getting a pay raise.
That's the sentiment from some NIPSCO electric customers to a proposal by the utility to raise rates by 7.9 percent.
Residents say it's too much to bear. They packed an auditorium in Hammond, Ind. to let the utility know their opposition, CBS 2's Pamela Jones reports.
Mary Cartwright says she turns off as many lights as she can to save money on her electric bill, but it doesn't seem to help.
"Every time I receive my NIPSCO bill, I am just shocked. It goes up every month, and the services are no better," she said.
NIPSCO's Nick Meyer says the power company needs the rate increase to improve reliability and customer service.
Nipsco says the average customer is paying almost $75 a month for power right now. The proposed increase would average about $6.
"We're making sure that the power stays on," Meyer said.
State consumer counselors and regulators listened to residents.
Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott says the only ones getting help from the utility are NIPSCO officials. This week, the company announced its CEO got a 31 percent raise and earned $1.9 million last year.
"It seems to be a pretty weird time when you're giving million-dollar bonuses to be asking for more taxpayer money," said McDermott, who is running for re-election.
Nipsco says its CEO's pay has nothing to do with the need for a rate increase. The company won a hike about two years ago but backed off and didn't charge that increase after complaints from customers.
for more features.