jump to navigation

CAC’s Kerwin Olson: Dueling energy proposals bear monitoring at Indiana State House; How will they impact you? January 31, 2013

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2013 Indiana General Assembly, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

Dear IndianaDG Readers:

In any attempt to bring you a variety of viewpoints on energy and utility issues that will impact renewable energy and distributed generation, please find below a pieve written by Kerwin Olson who is the Executive Director of Citizens Action Coalition.

Just a friendly reminder, SB 560 will be heard this morning (1/31/2013) in the Senate Utilities Committee starting at 9 am. You can watch on-line. Please visit this previous post for details http://wp.me/pMRZi-12b.

As of last night there were three proposed amendments circulating which may or may not be offered to SB 560.

Laura Ann Arnold

http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20130131/EDIT05/301319991/1021/EDIT

Published: January 31, 2013 3:00 a.m.

Dueling energy proposals bear monitoring

Kerwin Olson

The fate of monthly utility bills and the future of Indiana energy policy will be a hot topic of discussion in the Indiana General Assembly.

Once again, the proposed coal-to-gas plant to be built in Rockport by Indiana Gasification will be the subject of legislation. Two companion bills, SB 510 (authored by Sen. Doug Eckerty – R, Yorktown) and HB 1515 (authored by Rep. Suzanne Crouch – R, Evansville) promise to protect consumers from what are certain to be excessive charges for the substitute natural gas to be produced by the proposed facility. By making this the law of our state, captive Hoosier ratepayers will be protected from being gouged by an Enron-like scheme that promises hefty returns for a privately held, out-of-state hedge fund.

Conversely, SB 560 (authored by Sen. Brandt Hershman, R, Monticello) guarantees that captive gas and electricity ratepayers will face enormous bill increases; the legislation eliminates regulatory protections to which captive consumers are entitled. SB 560 will shift almost all of the costs and risk of operating a monopoly utility company to captive ratepayers and away from voluntary investors. Additionally, SB 560 would allow the monopoly utilities to raise rates virtually automatically and would further reduce regulatory oversight by placing unreasonable time restrictions on both the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor to review requests by the monopoly utilities to raise your rates. Should SB 560 become law, monopoly utility profits will become excessive as the utilities will have little incentive to control costs while the more expensive, risky and obsolete technologies will continue to be chosen over cheaper, cleaner and less risky alternatives.

Every branch of government is being asked to do more with less. The public is struggling with stagnant and diminishing wages, while monthly electric bills have increased nearly 50 percent over the last decade, and the cost of living continues to soar, especially for essentials such as food and health care. Meanwhile, the monopoly electric and gas utility companies in Indiana are working hard to undermine regulatory oversight and are attempting to deregulate their monopoly revenue and profits. They are asking your elected officials for a raise, and they want it to come from your checkbook. While everyone else is being forced to tighten their belts and the working class and vulnerable populations struggle to survive, the monopoly utilities parade around the halls of government with unfettered access working to increase their monopoly revenue and profits at the expense of the public.

It should be interesting to observe the now Republican-dominated General Assembly and a newly elected governor with no Statehouse experience navigate the two paradigms. Will they allow the monopoly utilities with their deep pockets to control the agenda and the future of Indiana energy policy, or will they stand up for consumers, keep the utilities in check and protect the public interest? We’ll learn the answer during what promises to be a long and contentious 2013 General Assembly session. Stay tuned.

Kerwin Olson is executive director of Citizens Action Coalition in Indianapolis. He wrote this for Indiana newspapers.

Advertisements

AP: Indiana Senate Pro Tem David Long (R-Ft. Wayne) seeks gas plant contract review for Indiana Gasification LLC January 25, 2013

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2013 Indiana General Assembly, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

Associated Press January 24, 2013 published in the Indianaapolis Business Journal

Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long said Thursday the state needs to review its plans to buy synthesized natural gas from a $2.8 billion plant slated for construction in Rockport.

The Fort Wayne Republican said “the world has changed” since lawmakers first approved a plan that guarantees Indiana Gasification LLC has a buyer for its product over the next 30 years — a prospect that looked good a few years ago when natural gas prices were high but has caused some lawmakers to second-guess that deal with an infusion of new gas on the market because of increased fracking.

“Obviously, just the fact the world has changed since this idea came into being requires us to take another look at it,” Long said, calling for either the regulators on the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission or state lawmakers to review the deal.

He stopped short of saying it should be revoked.

“I’m not willing to say that just yet, but I think we all have questions given the price of natural gas is so much lower now due to the fracking and everything ‘s that’s going on around the country,” he said. “What looked like it had a real potential when the price of gas was so much higher, now we have to bring the question whether it makes sense.”

The statements from Long and others seeking to review the deal has placed Indiana Gasification on the defensive in a continuing battle with the southern Indiana utility Vectren, which has argued the project would cost Indiana ratepayers more than $1 billion because of a spike in rates from the more expensive synthetic natural gas.

“If the Legislature has read the IURC order, which covers shale gas comprehensively, and feels there is a reason to renege on the process they established, it will be viewed as a very negative sign,” said Indiana Gasification project manager Mark Lubbers, referring to the IURC’s prior approval of the deal. The state’s Court of Appeals overturned that approval last year, sending the issue back to the Legislature and the IURC.

“We have trusted that the state was good for their word,” Lubber said. “This isn’t a game; we would be investing $750 million of our money and borrowing another $1.9 billion we will be obligated to repay. We regarded Indiana as a stable committed partner. Being so easily frightened into second guessing is not the kind of thing you want to see when you are investing nearly $3 billion.”

Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown, has introduced legislation that would restructure a 30-year contract agreed to between the Indiana Finance Authority and Indiana Gasification. House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said Thursday he supports reviewing the deal.

IndplsStar: Opponents emerge for IPL’s $500M pollution control plan; Urge IPL to invest in renewable energy January 25, 2013

Posted by Laura Arnold in Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Uncategorized.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment
Dear IndianaDG Readers:
Let’s give a big “shout-out” to Indianapolis City-County At-large Council Member Zach Adamson for testifying at this IURC public field hearing last night in Cause No. 44242. Please note that Indiana State Senator Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) attended this hearing last night which was attended by 4 of the 5 members of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) including Chairman Jim Atterholt.
I also testified last night urging that IPL’s Rate REP or feed-in tariff which is scheduled to expire March 30, 2013 be extended and expanded. I suggested that there was a lost opportunity for worthwhile renewable energy projects in the IPL Rate REP Queue that are not likely to be able to participate in the program. Specifically, I mentioned 15 different proposed projects representing 1.5 MWs of solar PV projects that are a part of the Indy Solar Initiative. For details see Indy Solar Initiative10_02_Englewood CDC and East Washington Street Partnership. I also mentioned additional proposed projects not slated to be done under the IPL Rate REP unless it is extended and expanded including St. Luke’s Methodist Church, University High School and the Jewish Community Center (JCC). It is difficult to understand what additional projects have been proposed for the IPL Rate REP since the list does identify them except by the date their application was filed a code name with a letter representing the applicant and a number.
I plan to revise and edit my oral comments. Please let me know if you are interested in receiving a written copy.
More on this case as it unfolds. Watch this blog for updates!
Laura Ann Arnold

Sierra Club rally against Indianapolis Power & Lig...

Sierra Club rally against Indianapolis Power & Light rate increase: The Sierra Club, Citizens Action Coalition and City-County Councilman Zach Adamson rally against IPL’s request for a rate increase to pay for $500 million in upgrades to two of its coal-fired plants.

   Written by Tony Cook, Jan 24, 2013   |4Comments

Consumer and environmental advocates rallied before an Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission public hearing on Indianapolis Power and Light's plan to spend more than $500 million on environmental controls at two coal-fired power plants at the Indiana History Center in Indianapolis on Thursday, January 24, 2013. Speaking at center is Sierra Club's Megan Anderson, Indiana Beyond Coal Campaign conservation organizer.

Consumer and environmental advocates rallied before an Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission public hearing on Indianapolis Power and Light’s plan to spend more than $500 million on environmental controls at two coal-fired power plants at the Indiana History Center in Indianapolis on Thursday, January 24, 2013. Speaking at center is Sierra Club’s Megan Anderson, Indiana Beyond Coal Campaign conservation organizer.  /  Charlie Nye / The Star

Sierra Club rally against Indianapolis Power & Light rate increase

The Sierra Club, Citizens Action Coalition and City-County Councilman Zach Adamson rally against IPL’s request for a rate increase to pay for $500 million in upgrades to two of its coal-fired plants.

This is a must see video of remarks made prior to the IURC public field hearing.

View Video HERE http://www.indystar.com/videonetwork/2117556920001/Sierra-Club-rally-against-Indianapolis-Power-Light-rate-increase

———————————————————————–

Written by Tony Cook

Indianapolis Power & Light Co.’s plan to spend more than $500 million on environmental controls at two old coal-fired power plants is stirring opposition.

Consumer and environmental advocates — including an Indianapolis city-county councilman — argue that electric customers shouldn’t have to pay higher rates to extend the life of outdated and dirty coal plants.
“If we’re going to have a rate increase, it would be better to invest in a plant that isn’t going to poison our air and contaminate our soil with mercury,” said Democrat Zach Adamson, a councilman at large.
He and about 70 representatives from the Sierra Club and Citizens Action Coalition — wearing green “Nightmare on Harding Street” T-shirts — held a protest Thursday before an Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission  public hearing on the topic at the Indiana History Center.
IPL plans to spend $511 million on environmental upgrades to its Petersburg and Harding Street coal-fired plants. Individual generating units at those plants are 27 to 46 years old, according to IPL. Company officials say the upgrades would cut mercury emissions 80 percent and are necessary because of new mercury and air toxic standards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
To pay for the improvements, IPL wants to raise rates. Customers who use 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity would see their monthly bills rise $1.13 by 2014. The monthly increase would rise to $8.92 in 2017.
“Putting half a billion dollars into an outdated coal plant to keep it polluting the city for years to come is a waste of money,” said Megan Anderson, a conservation organizer with the Sierra Club.
Instead, opponents want IPL to invest in clean, renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar power.
Brad Riley, an IPL spokesman, said those alternatives wouldn’t be cost-effective and would end up costing ratepayers much more.
He also said IPL, which provides electricity to 470,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in the Indianapolis area, ranks eighth in the country for its use of wind-generated energy and seventh in the central part of the country for its use of solar power.
“We’ve got a great diversity in our portfolio,” he said.
But critics say that’s not good enough. They point out that the Indianapolis metropolitan area ranks 14th in the nation for year-round particle pollution, according to the American Lung Association.
“This is just a Band-Aid that’s going to cost over $500 million,” said Kerwin Olson, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition.

His group and other organizations representing consumer and environmental interests have until Monday to file testimony with the IURC.

Call Star reporter Tony Cook at (317) 444-6081 and follow him at twitter.com/indystartony.

Betting on Indiana coal: Duke wants ratepayers to fund retrofits, environmentalists cry foul January 23, 2013

Posted by Laura Arnold in Duke Energy, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Original article: http://www.midwestenergynews.com/2013/01/23/betting-on-indiana-coal-duke-wants-ratepayers-to-fund-retrofits-environmentalists-cry-foul/

The Gibson Generating Station in southwest Indiana. (Photo by Duke Energy via Creative Commons)

The Gibson Generating Station in southwest Indiana. (Photo by Duke Energy via Creative Commons)

Posted on 01/23/2013 by

Coal-fired power plants around the country are closing due to environmental regulations and competition from cheap natural gas, but during hearings before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission earlier this month, officials from one of the state’s largest utilities sought to buck the trend.

Duke Energy Indiana is seeking permission from the state regulatory commission to bill ratepayers for making retrofits to three of its Indiana coal-fired power plants in order to comply with looming federal environmental regulations, most importantly the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS) with a 2015 deadline.

Environmental groups that submitted testimony at the hearing argued that investing in the aging coal plants is a bad deal for ratepayers, who will pick up the cost since Indiana is a regulated energy market. And, they say, it unwisely continues a dependence on electricity sources that emit high levels of carbon dioxide, further contributing to climate change.

Instead, they told the commission, Duke should invest in natural gas, energy efficiency and other options. The Indiana Citizens Action Coalition, Valley Watch, Save the Valley and the Sierra Club intervened in the regulatory proceedings (the Sierra Club is a member of RE-AMP, which also publishes Midwest Energy News).

The commission is currently considering Duke’s request to pass on about $400 million worth of pollution control investments to ratepayers for its Cayuga, Gibson and Gallagher coal plants, as phase two of an ongoing retrofit program. Duke told the commission it plans to close a fourth coal plant, the Wabash River station, though there is a possibility one of its units would be retrofitted as a natural gas plant. The average age of the four coal plants is 45 years.

A Duke fact sheet says the requested phase two investments would mean less than a one percent rate increase in 2013-2014, scaling up to a 6.3 percent rate increase by 2017. In filings the company also indicated it would seek about $945 million for phase three of the retrofit project, possibly in coming months.

Weighing the options

In making its request to the commission, Duke was required to consider various ways it could meet its power obligations.

The coal plants would have to close in coming years if they don’t make the expensive pollution control upgrades, including installing 200-foot-tall SCRs (selective catalytic reduction equipment) that remove nitrogen oxides; and activated carbon injection to control mercury.

Duke indicated to the regulators that after evaluating different scenarios, it decided retrofitting and continuing to run the coal plants through at least 2034 is its best option.

On November 29, the environmental groups filed testimony they had commissioned from Frank Ackerman, a senior economist at Synapse Energy Economics. Ackerman charged that the range of options explored by Duke was too narrow.

“The Company should have examined the possibilities of increasing their use of energy efficiency and demand response measures, expanding their portfolio of renewable energy, and increasing purchases of energy from other generators within MISO,” wrote Ackerman in his testimony.

“In making this statement, I am not suggesting that any one of these alternatives alone could replace any of the Company’s coal units. Rather, combinations of these alternatives may contribute to the least-cost alternatives to continued operation of some existing coal plants.”

(Enter case number 44217 at this link to see Ackerman’s testimony and other filings in the docket.)

Energy efficiency

Indiana’s electric demand could be reduced considerably in coming years with improvements in the energy efficiency of buildings and appliances and improvements on the grid to better move electricity where it’s needed. Duke is required to invest a certain amount in energy efficiency through 2020 under a state program.

Speaking at the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s annual conference in Chicago last week, Duke official Tim Duff said, “Energy efficiency has been a longstanding priority for the company” and cited awards Duke has won for energy efficiency projects. “Duke also believes you can’t just look at the customer side of the meter, you have to look at the utility side to deliver the power as efficiently as possible.”

However, Ackerman said Duke failed to adequately consider the possibility of continually escalating gains in energy efficiency beyond 2020, and his testimony also said the company did not consider the possibility of lower-than-expected demand in general.

Clean-energy advocates say that even without state mandates, Duke should plan to make greater investments in energy efficiency in the future.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s 2012 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard listed Indiana as 33rd in the nation in energy efficiency, ranking below all Midwestern states except North Dakota and Kansas. In efficiency savings as a percentage of retail sales, Indiana ranked 42nd in the nation.

Relatively low electricity rates in the Midwest mean energy efficiency efforts have a lower rate of financial return, but Ackerman noted that other Midwestern states ranked high in efficiency savings as a percent of retail sales – Minnesota was number four – even though they also have relatively low energy prices.

Duke based predictions on the assumption that energy efficiency gains would continue after 2020 at proportionally the same levels mandated under the existing state program. Thomas Cmar, an Earthjustice attorney representing the environmental groups, said Duke should aim to do better (Earthjustice is also a member of RE-AMP).

“Duke can do more on efficiency than the bare minimum, and it should do more if the money spent on efficiency gives more bang for the buck for ratepayers than spending it on generating the same amount of electricity,” Cmar said.

A carbon price and other factors

Duke senior engineer Michael Geers told the commission that while the company doesn’t expect Congress to enact climate change legislation in the near term, they based their predictions on Congress passing a price on carbon that would take effect in 2020 at $17 a ton and escalate to $44 a ton by 2032.

In answers to questions posed by the commission, Duke said that a 2020 starting carbon price of $21 per ton would render un-economic the biggest portion of its retrofits: SCRs at the Cayuga plant.

Synapse came up with its own “mid-case” prediction for the impacts of a carbon dioxide price, “based on a review of dozens of utility and other forecasts” as Ackerman’s testimony said.

Ackerman concluded that even Duke’s modeling promised only small benefits to retrofitting the coal plants versus other options, and he said these benefits could quickly evaporate with a carbon price or other conditions different than Duke had predicted.

Cmar noted that even lower carbon prices than Synapse’s “mid-case” scenario would make the Cayuga SCRs un-economic.

“In other words, a carbon price lower than Dr. Ackerman predicts would, by itself, completely wipe out the value of Duke’s largest coal retrofits even if Duke is correct on every other assumption,” Cmar said.

Both Duke and the environmental groups have also brought up the possible future costs of new federal regulations on coal ash, which are currently being debated but still have not been finalized; and expected new federal regulations regarding the disposal of waste water from coal plants. The environmental groups say that these regulations could mean significant new costs that will have to be passed on to ratepayers, if the coal plants stay open.

“Some of these plants have old coal ash landfills that would need to be cleaned up,” said Cmar. “And with scrubbers a lot of waste ends up in the wastewater; the EPA is in the process of requiring additional wastewater treatment.”

A bias toward coal?

In 2011, 93 percent of Duke Energy Indiana’s generation came from its coal plants, with just two percent of its generation from natural gas and three percent from renewables, according to testimony filed before the regulatory commission in June 2012 by Duke Energy Indiana president Douglas Esamann.

Last year, Duke’s Indiana generating capacity was 64 percent coal and 24 percent natural gas. Since many natural gas units are only run as needed, actual generation is usually skewed toward reliance on coal plants. Esamann testified that Duke does expect to increase its overall reliance on gas in coming years, though the change he predicted by 2016 wasn’t overly striking: a shift to 88 percent coal and 4 percent gas generation; and 58 percent coal and 27 percent gas capacity.

Meanwhile coal accounts for 85 percent of Indiana’s total power generation, according to Duke, and the company is the largest coal buyer at about 12.5 million tons a year. Duke has already invested $2.8 billion in pollution controls since 1990 to keep its four coal plants going, and it is completing a new “clean coal” plant in Edwardsport, Indiana that is not part of the request before the commission.

Duke noted that the phase two investments it is seeking would create 285 construction jobs and contribute to the continued existence of mining and transportation jobs.

Indiana Citizens Action Coalition executive director Kerwin Olson thinks state officials and Duke executives are biased toward the coal industry in part because of its political clout among Indiana lawmakers.

“Duke is the largest consumer and purchaser of Indiana coal so they get a lot of political support because of their use of Indiana coal,” said Olson. “We have adopted so many (state) statutes that incentivize the continued use of coal, particularly Indiana coal, so they’ve gamed the system politically to favor this option.”

Indianapolis Power & Light has also sought to bill ratepayers for the cost of adding pollution controls to coal plants to keep them running, even as environmentalists including Indiana Citizens Action Coalition say the money would be better spent on wind energy and energy efficiency.

If Duke built new natural gas plants and retired its four archaic coal plants, it could still pass the costs of the gas plants on to ratepayers. But Cmar thinks Duke stands to gain more from investments in capital improvements on the coal plants than it could on natural gas plants. That’s partly because it can continue billing ratepayers for the depreciated value of its coal plants in addition to billing for the value of new investments.

Cmar said the retrofits might also qualify for an incentive for “clean coal” development under a state statute that allows regulated utilities to collect an extra three percent return on their clean energy investments. He cited June 2012 testimony by Joseph Miller, general manager of analytical and investment engineering for Duke Energy Business Services LLC. Miller’s testimony focused largely on how the retrofits would qualify as “clean coal” and “clean energy” projects.

Duke spokesperson Angeline Protogere said the clean energy incentive did not figure in to Duke’s calculations. “We’re not aware if the Indiana Commission has ever authorized the extra three percent incentive provided for under Indiana code, but we have not asked them to do so in this proceeding,” she said. “It had no impact on our decision making.”

Predicting the future

The environmental advocates also believe Duke’s predictions of future fuel prices unrealistically favor coal, without adequately considering what would happen if coal became relatively more expensive compared to gas than they had forecast.

Protogere said that Duke evaluated its options based on a range “developed using statistical analysis of a portfolio of future gas and coal prices.” She said she couldn’t elaborate on how they reached those prices because of proprietary information.

Protogere added that while Duke believes retrofitting its three Indiana plants makes economic sense right now, in general “our integrated resource planning model does favor natural gas-fired generation over the next 20 years.”

“If we switched immediately to more new gas plants and renewable energy sources, customers would have the burden of paying for new facilities years before they would have otherwise been needed,” said Protogere. “We take seriously the job of planning to supply our customers with safe and reliable electricity. When we make electricity greener, we do so with customers’ costs in mind.”

“While Duke Energy Indiana cannot predict the future, neither can others,” she added. ”What we can do is to make the best decisions for the future based on what we know today.”

Cmar and Olson said the company is taking a short-term view.

Olson said the company has an “inability to think outside the box and move into the 21st century. They’re stuck in the 20th century belief in baseload power plants that bring them a lot of money and political support.”

Cmar decried the fact that Duke’s analysis only goes through 2034:

“Even if everything that Duke is predicting comes true, when 2034 rolls around Duke could either have decades-old coal plants at or near the end of their useful lives, or relatively new natural gas plants that will continue to operate for decades after that.”

Courier-Press: Official with Rockport coal-to-gas plant says contract changes would kill the deal January 22, 2013

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2013 Indiana General Assembly, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Vectren.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

Dear IndianaDG Readers:

The Leucadia Indiana Gasification plant proposed for Rockport, IN is likely to be a “hot potato” this session of the Indiana General Assembly. Sen. Eckerty has introduced SB 510. The digest for SB 510 is as follows:

Substitute natural gas contracts. Defines “guarantee of savings” with respect to retail end use customers of substitute natural gas (SNG). Amends the definition of “purchase contract”. Defines “savings shortfall”. Requires the Indiana finance authority (IFA) to submit a final purchase contract, including amendments, and any other agreements with a producer of SNG to the utility regulatory commission (IURC). Requires the IFA to determine on a three year cycle if retail end use customers are provided a guarantee of savings or a savings shortfall under a purchase contract. Requires the IFA to electronically submit its findings to the IURC. Requires the IURC to verify and approve the findings and, if there is a savings shortfall, order a producer of SNG to provide a refund.

There appears to be a delay still in House Bills appearing in the system, therefore, Rep. Crouch’s bill is still not available from the Indiana General Assembly website. Eventually, you should be able to find the bill she has introduced HERE.

Also be sure to read the second article from the IBJ for more background on this issue.

When there is more information about this issue you will be able to read it here.

Laura Ann Arnold

Lawmakers questioning wisdom of 30-year deal to buy plant’s gas at fixed price

By Eric Bradner, Evansville Courier & Press, Posted January 18, 2013 at 5:57 p.m., updated January 18, 2013 at 10:06 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS —State lawmakers’ attempts to rework the deal Indiana struck with developers of the proposed Rockport coal-to-gas plant would kill the nearly $3 billion project, one of its top officials said Friday.

As a shale gas boom drives down natural gas prices, two Republican lawmakers say they question the wisdom of the Indiana Finance Authority’s 30-year contract to buy and then resell the plant’s synthetic gas at a fixed rate.

Both have filed bills that would drastically alter its terms. The bills would trigger the ratepayer protection mechanisms included in the contract every three years, rather than waiting until the end of the deal.

That would stop the plant in its tracks, said Mark Lubbers, a former

Gov. Mitch Daniels aide who is helming the Rockport effort for Leucadia National Corp.

“Any ‘true-up’ of savings before the end of the contract term makes the project unfinanceable,” he said.

The House and Senate utility committees could consider the two measures at a rare joint meeting, the chairmen of those committees told the Courier & Press on Friday.

“We can tell you that we have had many conversations regarding the Rockport coal gasification plant with our Senate and House colleagues. We’re currently considering holding a joint hearing on the issue, although no final plans have been set,” Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, and Rep. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, said in a joint statement.

Lubbers meanwhile doubled down on what he said is a rock-solid deal for Hoosier gas customers over the long term, saying Indiana needs a second plant — this one in Lake County — that would convert petroleum coke, rather than coal.

“Two plants would provide better consumer protection and keep even more Hoosier energy spending in Indiana,” Lubbers said.

His stance sets the stage for what could emerge as a critical battle in the opening weeks of the first term of new Gov. Mike Pence, who has not taken a stance on the project.

In 2009 lawmakers gave the Indiana Finance Authority the green light to hammer out a 30-year contract with Leucadia’s Indiana Gasification LLC to buy its synthetic natural gas and then resell it through the state’s utilities.

That deal, signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels, set a rate of between $6 and $7 per MMBtu for the life of the contract. It would have utilities tie 17 percent of ratepayers’ bills to that Rockport price, rather than their open market rate.

It appeared to be a steal when natural gas prices topped $13 per unit as recently as 2008. Since then, though, a nationwide shale gas boom has sent prices plummeting to near $3 per unit now.

And now that Daniels is gone, some lawmakers are looking for ways out of the deal.

“The market has changed, conditions have changed, and so we need to take a fresh look at this situation and there needs to be some changes that will protect the ratepayer,” said Rep. Suzanne Crouch, R-Evansville.

Crouch and Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown, filed the bills that the utility committee chairmen are considering granting a joint hearing.

The Indiana Finance Authority’s deal required Leucadia’s Indiana Gasification LLC to set $150 million aside in an escrow account to reimburse ratepayers for any losses at the end of the 30-year deal.

The measures Crouch and Eckerty are pushing would shorten that window, requiring Indiana Gasification to pay ratepayers back for any losses every three years — a move that would harm Indiana Gasification’s bid for a federal loan guarantee.

Opponents of the Rockport plant include Evansville-based

Vectren Corp., which estimates the deal could cost Indiana ratepayers $1 billion in extra gas prices over its first eight years, and a host of environmental groups.

“When this thing was conceived, it was a good idea. Natural gas was volatile, there was an unknown long-term supply, and we were just coming off three or four years of the most volatile natural gas prices we’d seen in 25 years,” said Mike Roeder, Vectren’s vice president of government affairs and communications.

“The concept made a ton of sense, and so no legislator should feel any guilt about a vote from back then because it was a reasonable idea. But what has changed is shale gas.”

Lubbers, who has argued that recent years’ volatility in natural gas prices make the case for a project with fixed rates, said he will continue defending the project if state lawmakers consider the two bills this year.

“On the one hand, we are always grateful for a platform to talk about the plant and the contract. It is extraordinary public policy — the first time consumers have ever been guaranteed savings for any energy product; the first time consumers have ever had a lien on energy utility assets; a huge step forward in clean coal technology. It is a big idea and makes Indiana a real leader,” he said.

“On the other hand, after an 18-month negotiation that produced more consumer protection than the legislature or we ever envisioned, and an 11-month (Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission) consideration resulting in unanimous approval of the contract, to have it politically challenged by a self-interested utility is disappointing.”

The state’s contract with Indiana Gasification is also the subject of a court battle.

The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the state’s utility regulatory commission’s approval of the deal last year, pointing to a problem that the Indiana Finance Authority and Indiana Gasification said would be easily fixed.

But Vectren has sought to use that opening to force the deal back onto the starting blocks, requiring it to be vetted and approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission all over again.

Bill could be hurdle for proposed $2.8B synthetic gas plant

Chris O’Malley, January 15, 2013, Indianapolis Business Journal

The company that plans to build a $2.8 billion synthetic gas plant in Indiana could face another hurdle if a bill introduced by a state senator is successful at the Statehouse.
Under the legislation, state utility regulators could order Indiana Gasification LLC to make refunds to gas customers every three years if the price of synthetic gas it produces from coal is greater than the market price of natural gas over the period.

Senate Bill 510, by Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown, is aimed at alleviating concerns raised by consumer groups and some lawmakers about legislation passed in 2010 that helped enable the plant proposed for Rockport, near the Ohio River.

That legislation allowed the Indiana Finance Authority to act as a purchasing intermediary for synthetic gas produced at the plant. The authority would sell the gas on the open market. Whether gas customers would receive discounts, or see their bills increase, would depend on whether the authority made or lost money on its sales.

It’s estimated that Indiana Gasification could produce gas between at a cost of $6 and $7 per MMBtu, a common measurement used by the energy industry.

When the Rockport plant was proposed, natural gas was selling for around $13 per MMBtu, Eckerty said in a prepared statement Tuesday. Butwith an abundant supply of natural gas now available, the fuel recently was selling at $3.10.

“With these changes in mind, many state officials – including myself – believe it is not in Hoosiers’ best interests for the state to put taxpayers at risk by subsidizing substitute natural gas,” Eckerty said.

Natural gas prices have plummeted in recent years, with mass extraction of natural gas from shale deposits. Evansville-based gas and electric utility Vectren projects the synthetic gas made at the proposed plant would cost customers $1 billion in the first eight years, or up to $375 for an average retail customer.

Critics say under the current contract with the state, natural gas customers may not see Indiana Gasification’s promised $100 million in savings until the end of the 30-year contract.

Legislators who passed the original measure did not intend for such savings to be realized so late, said Kerwin Olson, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition.

“This is a good proposal. It clarifies the Legislature’s original intent,” Olson said of the new bill. “It helps to erase the generational discrimination.”

Indiana Gasification has found fault with opponents’ insistence that natural gas prices will remain low over the long-haul, noting that natural gas prices historically have been volatile.

That volatility is a certainty was citied by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in its approval of the deal.

Indiana Gasification also insists that the proposed plant will diversify the state’s supply of gas and help lessen volatility.

Currently, the gas supply contract between Indiana Gasification and the Indiana Finance Authority is mired in litigation.

Last October, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed regulator approval of the gas-purchasing contract deal, but on narrow grounds. It found the legislation authorizing the purchases never was intended to result in certain industrial customers’ sharing in the costs or benefits of the purchases, as would residential customers.

Indiana Gasification said a simple, 37-word deletion of language in the contract would satisfy the court. But Vectren has filed an objection, arguing that the contract was essentially made null and void by the court last October and that the regulatory process should start over again.

The proposed plant operator counters that Vectren already lost on many of its arguments and that the tactic is meant to cause delays that could jeopardize financing of the project.

Eckerty’s bill could potentially void the disputed contract between Indiana Gasification and the state finance authority “because it makes retroactive changes to current statute that would modify the terms of that contract,” said a bill analysis by Indiana Legislative Services Agency.

Indiana Gasification officials did not immediately offer comment on the bill.

CAC says–“IPL: Stop investing in the past; Start investing in the future! Tell the IURC to say NO to IPL rate increase!” January 21, 2013

Posted by Laura Arnold in Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), IPL Rate REP, Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Do you agree that IPL should stop investing in the past and start investing in the future? Should IPL reconsider renewing and extending Rate REP or feed-in tariff which allows customers to invest in renewable energy and distributed generation?

Click this link below for information from Citizens Action Coalition (CAC) concerning the upcoming field hearing for the IPL Environmental Compliance case in Cause No. 44242.

For details on how to participate in the hearing see: https://indianadg.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/voice-your-view-on-ipl-environmental-compliance-case-12413/

IPL: Stop investing in the past; Start investing in the future! Tell the IURC to say NO to IPL rate increase!.

Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL) is currently seeking permission from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to raise rates in order to install pollution control equipment on their fleet of aging coal-fired power plants.  IPL’s almost exclusive reliance on coal (approximately 99% of the electricity generated by IPL is from burning coal) continues to expose ratepayers and shareholders to enormous costs and risks and is contributing to significant public health and environmental problems.

It’s time for IPL to begin to diversify their generation portfolio and move into the 21st century by making meaningful investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.  Investing in renewables and efficiency will reduce ratepayer and shareholder risk, protect our health and the quality of our environment, and put money back into Hoosiers’ pockets by creating jobs and reducing monthly electric bills.

01-13-13 IPL Rate Hike Fact Sheet from Citizens Action Coalition (CAC)

Let us know if you plan to attend the hearing. See you there!!

FERC Proposes Rule to Speed Up Solar Energy Grid Interconnection January 21, 2013

Posted by Laura Arnold in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Uncategorized.
Tags: , ,
add a comment
Dear IndianaDG Readers:
This is a very interesting FERC development. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) stated:
In the petition, SEIA made clear to FERC that it appreciates that all “retail” interconnections of solar generation directly to consumers are subject to state, not federal, jurisdiction and that SEIA respects these jurisdictional boundaries. However, SEIA believes that if FERC improves its own rules, they could serve as a model for states that would like to improve solar market access. (emphasis added)
There are likely a number of changes needed concerning Interconnection in Indiana found at: 170 Indiana Administrative Code (IAC) 4.3 Customer-Generator Interconnection Standards.
In particular, I have heard stories from developers that their solar PV interconnection applications have not been processed in a completely timely fashion. We may have more to report after the deadline passes for IPL Rate REP Interconnection and Contract by the end of this month. There is a clearly defined time frame for this process whether Interconnection is being requested for a feed-in tariff or merely net metering.
Do you believe that your interconnection application(s) are not receiving timely treatment? Please contact me and provide details. We may need to work on this now.
There are also other administrative rules pertaining to electric utilities which need a review and updating including 170 IAC 4.1 concerning Cogeneration and Alternate Energy Production Facilities. This rule sets out how electric utilities determine their “avoided cost”.
As used in this rule, “avoided cost” means the incremental cost to an electric utility of electric energy or capacity, or both, which, but the purchase from a qualifying facility or facilities, the utility would generate or maintain itself or purchase from another source.
Are you interested in working with us to update this administrative rule used to calculate “avoided costs”? Contact me.
Laura Ann Arnold
By Sharryn Dotson, Online Editor, Power Engineering January 17, 2013   |  13 Comments
Original article: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2013/01/ferc-proposes-rule-to-speed-up-solar-energy-grid-interconnection?cmpid=SolarNL-Saturday-January19-2013

Tulsa, OK USA — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has proposed changes to a rule that will speed up the process and reduce the costs to interconnect smaller-sized solar power projects to the grid while maintaining system reliability and safety. The changes were necessary, the organization claims, because of market changes that were due to state renewable energy goals and policies.

In 2005, FERC issued Order No. 2006, which established national interconnection procedures for generation projects that are 20 MW or less in size and subject to FERC’s wholesale jurisdiction. However, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) filed an interconnection rulemaking petition with FERC in February 2012, arguing that certain aspects of the order have become barriers to cost-effective and timely interconnections. Its proposal will allow solar projects that met certain technical screens to qualify for a “fast track” interconnection process. As a result, the amount of solar considered under the sped-up process is expected to as much as double.

The FERC’s new Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposes four specific reforms:

  • Allow interconnection customers to request a pre-application report from transmission providers to help them better evaluate points of interconnection before submitting a final request.
  • Increase the current 2 MW threshold to 5 MW in order to participate in the Fast Track Process. Eligibility would also be based on individual system and resource characteristics.
  • Revise customer options meeting and supplemental review for projects that fail the Fast Track screens.
  • Give interconnection customers an opportunity to provide written comments on the upgrades necessary for the interconnection.

SEIA said the changes are welcome news in the solar power industry. “We applaud FERC for recognizing the challenges facing wholesale distributed generation development, which is one of the fastest-growing segments of the solar energy industry,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “This important proposed rule has the potential to roughly double the amount of solar generation capacity eligible to be fast-tracked in the U.S.”

Resch said he hopes the states will look at the proposal as a prototype for their own interconnection rules.

Voice Your View on IPL Environmental Compliance Case 1/24/13 January 17, 2013

Posted by Laura Arnold in Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Uncategorized.
Tags:
add a comment

See next blog post for more information on this case pending before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) from the Citizens Action Coalition (CAC).

Written consumer comments also invited

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is encouraging Indianapolis Power & Light Company (IPL) customers to comment on the utility’s pending environmental compliance construction case, through both written comments and the case’s upcoming public field hearing.

An Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) public field hearing will be held

DATE: Thursday, January 24, 2013

TIME: 6:00 pm EST

PLACE: Indiana History Center , 450 West Ohio St., Indianapolis, IN 46202

The hearing’s public comment portion will start at 6:00 p.m.

Sworn oral and written comments regarding the case will be accepted during the field hearing.

Oral and written consumer comments carry equal weight and will become part of the case’s official evidentiary record.

Commissioners are not allowed to answer questions during the field hearing. (However, OUCC and IURC staff will be available before, during and after the hearing.)

An OUCC informational session on the regulatory process and public field hearing procedures will begin at 5:30 p.m.

IPL is asking the IURC to approve its proposed Environmental Compliance Construction Project, which would include the construction, installation and operation of new pollution control equipment at IPL’s Petersburg and Harding Street generating stations. The equipment would be installed on five generating units that make up 82 percent of IPL’s coalfired capacity. It would reduce mercury emissions along with emissions of non-mercury metal hazardous air pollutants and acid gas hazardous air pollutants.

In its testimony, the utility states that the project is necessary for compliance with federal regulations, specifically the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) rule.

IPL is also seeking IURC approval to recover the project’s costs through rates, with rate adjustments to be made every six months. The utility currently estimates the project’s construction costs – not including financing and demolition costs – at nearly $511 million (compared to an initial construction cost estimate of $606 million).

By 2014, IPL expects the project to add $1.13 to the monthly bill for a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh). According to IPL’s testimony, this monthly amount would rise to $8.92 in 2017.

The OUCC – which represents consumer interests in cases before the IURC – is still evaluating this case and is scheduled to file testimony on January 28, 2013. Additional parties that have intervened in this case – including the Sierra Club, the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana (CAC), and the IPL Industrial Group – are also scheduled to file testimony on January 28.

More information on this case is available online at www.in.gov/oucc/2732.htm.

Consumers who wish to submit written comments in this case 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: uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov

Fax: (317) 232-5923

Written comments the OUCC receives by January 24 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. 44242.”

Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff tollfree t 1-888-441-2494.

# # #

IURC Cause No. 44242

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

IndyStar: Duke Energy Indiana customers owe $2.5 billion-plus for Edwardsport plant December 28, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in Duke Energy, Edwardsport IGCC Plant, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Uncategorized.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Dear IndianaDG Readers:

The story about the IURC order on Duke Energy Indiana’s Edwardsport IGCC  plant was the front page banner story in this morning’s Indianapolis Star print edition. At the end of the article is a summary of the timeline of events. This matter is not over since it is anticipated that parties such as Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana et al., that were intervenors that did not sign the proposed settlement agreement are expected to appeal the IURC decision.

For additional perspectives on this matter please also see:

Remember, you can read the IURC order in its entirety HERE> Order_in_Cause_No_43114_IGCC_4_S1(1)
Laura Ann Arnold
Duke Energy coal gasification power plant, Edwardsport, Ind.

Duke Energy coal gasification power plant, Edwardsport, Ind.

8:31 PM, Dec 27, 2012 Written by John Russell

Follow Indianapolis Star reporter John Russell on Twitter at @johnrussell99 or call him at (317) 444-6283.

Finally, after years of legal fighting, it’s official: Duke Energy Corp.and its 790,000 Indiana customers will split the $3.5 billion cost of the Edwardsport power plant — one of the largest, most expensive and most disputed construction projects in Indiana history.

But it’s not an even split, and how much each side will have to pay is likely to produce some grumbling.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission ruled Thursday that Duke Energy must swallow about $900 million for the plant, which in 2010 became enveloped in an ethics cloud involving a revolving door between the regulatory commission’s staff and the utility’s ranks.

The commission ruled that Duke should have managed the project more prudently and that it failed to hold its contractors accountable in allowing costs to spiral from the original estimate of $1.985 billion.

“We do not find it reasonable for ratepayers to pay for the imprudent actions of Duke’s contractors,” the ruling said.

But the commission ruled that the 618-megawatt plant ias necessary to meet the future energy needs of Indiana. It said customers must pay the bulk of construction costs: $2.595 billion, plus millions of dollars in financing costs.

Duke said the ruling will result in customers’ bills climbing 14 percent to 16 percent. Of that, a 5 percent rise already has taken place. The remainder will occur in two steps: Customers will see a rate hike of 3 percent to 4 percent in January, and two other hikes totaling 6 percent to 7 percent by early 2014.

The company said construction of the huge plant, near Vincennes, is nearly complete. It expects to put the plant into commercial operation by the middle of next year. Already, it has produced its first electricity from gasified coal during start-up and testing. The plant uses a coal-gasification technology to turn coal into electricity.

The ruling “allows us to focus on bringing into service a plant that will help us meet increasingly strict federal environmental regulations while still using an abundant local resource, Indiana coal,” Duke Energy said in a statement.

The IURC said that if Duke recovers any additional funds through litigation, the surplus must be returned to customers. Duke has strongly hinted it would take its contractors to court for engineering and construction problems.

The commission also directed Duke to credit customers for certain incentive payments that were found to be unwarranted “given the delays that arose from the project cost overruns.”

And in a major victory for the utility, the commission found that Duke did not commit fraud, concealment or gross mismanagement with the project. Those charges were leveled by several customer and citizens groups and resulted in months of public hearings.

In large part, Thursday’s ruling reflects a new settlement that Duke reached with its largest customers and the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor in April. The agreement and ruling apparently end more than two years of uncertainty and bitter fighting among those organizations over who should pay for a string of huge cost overruns.

The deal replaces an earlier agreement, reached in 2010, that had called for customers to pay about $2.9 billion of the plant’s costs. That settlement fell apart after The Indianapolis Star revealed secret meetings and conversations between state regulators and Duke executives stretching back several years.

David Stippler, the state’s consumer counselor, said Thursday the ruling means that more than $835 million in construction cost overruns will be borne by Duke, not its customers.

“At the same time, all Hoosiers will benefit from the reliability and stability this project will add to the grid,” Stippler said in a statement.

The agreement did not satisfy everyone. Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, which has long fought the plant as unnecessary, said customers could have to pay tens of millions of dollars in additional funds for ongoing financing of the plant, which could push their share of the cost to $2.65 billion.

“Customers should not have to pay for any cost overruns which are attributable to imprudence or mismanagement of the project,” said Kerwin Olson, the group’s executive director. His group said it would appeal the ruling to the Indiana Court of Appeals.

The plant came under severe criticism from the outset. Some critics said the technology was unproven and the additional generating capacity wasn’t needed.

Others weighed in after The Star exposed numerous emails and internal documents that showed utility executives had a chummy relationship with some state regulators.

Those revelations cost four high-ranking people their jobs, including David Lott Hardy, former chairman of the regulatory commission, who was fired by Gov. Mitch Daniels in late 2010. Others who lost their jobs were Duke’s No. 2 executive, the company’s former Indiana president and a Duke lawyer named Scott Storms.

The ethics scandal began, in large part, when Storms joined Duke in 2010 from the IURC, where he had been working as a chief administrative law judge. In that role, he oversaw the IURC’s regulation of the Edwardsport project while negotiating for a job with utility.

Duke said Thursday it looked forward to getting the controversy behind it and getting the plant in operation.

“Edwardsport will serve the electric energy needs of our Indiana customers for decades to come,” the company said.

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

2010
>> Aug. 31: Duke Energy offered a job to Scott Storms, general counsel for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
>> Sept. 9: The Indiana Ethics Commission ruled that Storms could take the job without a one-year cooling-off period typically required for utility regulators.
>> Sept. 22: Consumer groups, including the Citizens Action Coalition, raised serious concerns about Storms’ hiring and the relationship between utilities and state regulators.
>> Sept. 24: Duke Energy said it would impose stricter limits on Storms’ work for Duke, saying it wouldn’t let him do any work for Duke with the IURC for a year or work internally for Duke on any regulatory cases involving Duke pending with the state.
>> Sept. 27: Storms began working for Duke.
>> Oct. 5: Gov. Mitch Daniels terminated and replaced David Lott Hardy as chairman of the IURC, citing the violation of an ethics policy. As a result, Duke announced it had put its Indiana president, Michael W. Reed, on paid leave as he played a role in hiring Storms away from the IURC. Reed formerly was an IURC executive director.
>> Dec. 9: Under pressure from large industrial customers, Duke agreed to renegotiate an agreement that had customers paying for much of the latest cost overruns at Duke’s coal-gasification plant in Edwardsport.

2011
>> May 12: An ethics panel ruled that Storms violated state law when he participated in cases involving Duke while talking to the utility about a job.
>> June 30: The state’s utility consumer agency withdrew support for a deal with Duke in which ratepayers would shoulder $530 million in extra construction costs for the Edwardsport plant.
>> July 14: The utility consumer agency and Duke’s industrial users called for regulators to force the utility to pay for $1 billion in cost overruns on the Edwardsport plant and not pass those costs on to consumers. The Citizens Action Coalition argued that consumers should pay nothing toward the cost of the plant.
>> Oct. 27: The IURC kicked off weeks of testimony about Duke’s handling of the Edwardsport project.
>> Dec. 9: A Marion County grand jury indicted Hardy on three counts of official misconduct.

2012
>> July 2: Duke Energy agrees to merge with Progress Energy. Hours after gaining regulators’ approval, Duke Energy’s board ousted Progress Energy CEO Bill Johnson, who was supposed to take over the combined company, in favor of Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers. The deal created the nation’s largest electric company.
>> Nov. 29: Rogers agrees to retire at the end of 2013 as part of a settlement with North Carolina utilities regulators over the July 2 action.
>> Dec. 27: The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approves an agreement that would shift $900 million in cost overruns on the Edwardsport plant to Duke.

— Source: Star archives

IURC Decision Limits Cost Recovery on Duke Energy Edwardsport IGCC Plant on Indiana December 27, 2012

Posted by Laura Arnold in Duke Energy, Edwardsport IGCC Plant, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Uncategorized.
Tags:
add a comment

Dear Indiana DG Readers:

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) this afternoon (12/27/12) approved a modified Settlement Agreement in the Duke Energy Indiana Edwardsport case.

Please find below the official IURC News Release. Download the IURC News Release HERE > http://www.in.gov/iurc/files/IURC_Decision_Limits_Cost_Recovery_on_Duke_Energy_Edwardsport_Plant.pdf

Download a copy of the order HERE > http://www.in.gov/iurc/files/Order_in_Cause_No_43114_IGCC_4_S1.pdf 

The order is 134 pages but most of the order summarizes the case and the procedural history.

The Commission Discussion and Findings begins at p. 109.

A copy of the Settlement Agreement starts at p. 123 of the 134 page document., however, since this was not a settlement signed by all the parties to the proceeding this is likely not over. More details will be covered as they unfold. Watch this blog for further developments.

Enjoy!

Laura Ann Arnold

————————————-

IURC News Release
Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission
101 W. Washington St.
Suite 1500 E.
Indianapolis, IN 46204

For Immediate Release  
December 27, 2012
Contact Information:
Danielle McGrath
Office: (317) 232‐2297

IURC Decision Limits Cost Recovery on Duke Energy Edwardsport Plant

Commission approves modified settlement agreement and credits ratepayers an additional $28 million

INDIANAPOLIS – Today the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) modified and approved a settlement agreement reached in the Duke Energy Indiana case involving the revised cost estimate for the electric utility’s new integrated gasification combined cycle facility (IGCC) in Edwardsport, Ind.

The settlement agreement set a hard cost cap for the project at $2.595 billion (as of June 30, 2012), which prohibits Duke Energy from recovering project construction costs above this amount from retail electric customers, excluding costs related to force majeure situations defined in the agreement. It also requires the utility to absorb nearly $900 million in cost overruns given the plant is now projected to cost approximately $3.5 billion.

Although Duke Energy is limited in its recovery of project costs, the settlement agreement does allow the utility to recover financing charges accrued to fund the project’s construction. This arrangement is otherwise known as allowance for funds used during construction (AFUDC) and has been approved thus far in this case in accordance with state law.

Through a modification to the settlement agreement, the IURC also provided $28 million in additional value to ratepayers by directing Duke Energy to credit customers for cost control incentive payments found to be unwarranted, given the delays that arose from the project cost overruns. The IURC also modified the settlement agreement in such a way that if Duke Energy should recover through litigation claims more than the IGCC project costs absorbed by its shareholders, any surplus recovery is required to be returned to ratepayers.

The investment recovery sharing coupled with the other terms of the settlement agreement created value that was found to be in the public interest. The settlement agreement was reached by the utility, Nucor Steel Indiana, the Duke industrial group, and the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor. Packaged with the settlement agreement is also a guarantee by Duke Energy that it will not file a rate case prior to March 2013, nor implement one before April 2014.

For your reference, the IURC’s decision under Cause No. 43114 IGCC 4 S1 can be found online at http://www.in.gov/iurc. To read the “Commission Discussion and Findings” section, please go to page 109. If you need to access other case‐related documents, visit our Electronic Document System at https://myweb.in.gov/IURC/eds/. Instructions on how to best use this database can be found at http://www.in.gov/iurc/2666.htm.
###

The Commission is a fact‐finding body that hears evidence in cases filed before it and makes decisions based on the evidence presented in those cases. An advocate of neither the public nor the utilities, the IURC is required by state statute to make decisions that balance the interests of all parties to ensure the utilities provide adequate and reliable service at reasonable prices. For more information, please visit: http://www.in.gov/iurc.