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Indiana Authority to Operate as a Public Utility (8-IN-c)

Information current as of 2020
In Indiana, a developer must obtain siting permission from the applicable local government to construct high voltage transmission lines. In addition, if the developer is considered a “New Electric Transmission Owner” in the state, the developer must also obtain authority to operate as a public utility from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (“IURC”). IURC regulates new electric transmission owners pursuant to Indiana Code § 8-1-38.



Authority to Operate as a Public Utility Process


8-IN-c.1 – Contact Local Authorities

The developer should contact the appropriate local municipal and county authorities where the proposed transmission line will be located and gain siting approval of the proposed transmission line from those authorities.

8-IN-c.2 to 8-IN-c.3 – Is the Developer Considered a New Electric Transmission Owner?

If the developer is a considered a New Electric Transmission Owner, the developer must obtain authority to operate as a public utility in Indiana. If the developer is an Incumbent Electric Transmission Owner, the developer already has authority to operate as a public utility, and the developer can begin acquiring local siting approval.

A New Electric Transmission Owner is defined as, “a corporation, company, partnership, limited liability company, or other organization that:

  1. On the date of its incorporation or organization, does not own, operate, or maintain an electric transmission facility located in whole or in part in Indiana; and
  2. Is incorporated or organized to construct, own, operate, and maintain an electric transmission facility located in whole or in part in Indiana.”

Ind. Code § 8-1-38-4.

An Incumbent Electric Transmission Owner is defined as “a public utility that owns, operates, and maintains an electric transmission facility in whole or in part in Indiana.” Ind. Code § 8-1-38-2.

A Public Utility is defined as “a:

  1. Public, municipally owned, or cooperatively owned utility; or
  2. Joint agency created under Ind. Code § 8-1-2.2

Ind. Code § 8-1-8.5-1.

Additionally, an Electric Transmission Facility is defined as “a high voltage transmission line with a rating of at least 100 kilovolts and related transmission facilities and controls.” Ind. Code § 8-1-38-1.

8-IN-c.4 – Provide Notice to Incumbent Transmission Owners

Prior to requesting authorization from IURC, the developer should provide written notice of the developer’s request for authority to each Incumbent Electric Transmission Owner that may connect an existing electric transmission facility to the developer’s new electric transmission facility. Ind. Code § 8-1-38.

8-IN-c.5 – Request IURC Authorization

If the developer is a New Electric Transmission Owner, the developer must request authorization from IURC prior to commencing the transmission project.

8-IN-c.6 – Does IURC Authorize Developer?

IURC will grant the developer authority to operate as a public utility in Indiana if IURC makes the following findings about the developer:

  • They have financial, managerial, and technical capability to construct, own, operate, and maintain an electric transmission facility;
  • They have the ability and intent to comply with all statutes, rules, and regulations enforced by IURC;
  • They have the intent to construct, own, operate, and maintain an electric transmission facility that is under consideration by an applicable regional transmission organization; and
  • They have provided written notice of the developer’s request for authority to each Incumbent Electric Transmission Owner that may connect an existing electric transmission facility to the developer’s new electric transmission facility.

Ind. Code § 8-1-38-7(a).

In making the findings listed above, IURC may consider the creditworthiness of the developer, including:

  • The developer’s investment grade rating;
  • Guarantees of a parent company of the developer that has an investment grade rating;
  • A bank reference letter or bonding commitment on behalf of the developer;
  • The authority of the developer to directly set rates or impose taxes; and
  • The capability of the developer to meet its financial obligations if it abandons the new electric transmission facility after its construction.

Ind. Code § 8-1-38-7(b).

8-IN-c.7 to 8-IN-c.8 – Authority to Operate as a Public Utility

If IURC approves the developer’s request, IURC grants the developer authority to operate as a public utility in the state of in Indiana. This authority subjects the developer to regulation by IURC and grants the developer rights of a public utility such as the right of eminent domain pursuant to Ind. Code § 32-24-1-3(g). The developer must still gain local siting approval of the transmission line from appropriate local governments.

8-IN-c.9 – Appeal Decision

After a determination is made by IURC, the developer or other persons seeking an appeal must do so within 15 days after receiving notice of the decision. Ind. Code § 4-21.5-3-5(f). If a timely request is made, an administrative law judge conducts an adjudicative proceeding as soon as practicable. At the end of the appeal, IURC makes a final determination on the developer’s request.


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