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Bill seeks elected utility consumer counselor

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A legislator is proposing that Indiana’s utility consumer counselor be elected rather than appointed by the governor.

House Bill 1082, filed by Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne, would place the post on the ballot starting this year, with the term of the elected official beginning next Jan. 1.

The job of utility consumer counselor is currently filled by David Stippler, a former AT&T executive and attorney with Indianapolis-based Bingham McHale LLP. He was appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2008.

The Office of Utility Consumer Counselor intervenes in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and can take legal action in court. It has about 50 employees, including analysts, engineers, economists and attorneys.

Moses proposed a similar bill in the 2010 session, but it died in a house committee.

The bill could get more attention this time around in light of an ethics scandal that erupted in late 2010 at the IURC.

Daniels fired former IURC Chairman David Lott Hardy after it became known Hardy failed to pull administrative law judge Scott Storms from cases involving Duke Energy Corp. while Storms was discussing employment with Duke.

Hardy also appeared to be coaching Storms to get the OK of the state’s ethics review board, all the while mocking the process, e-mails released by the state showed.

Storms was later hired by Duke—then fired—after the scandal embarrassed Duke and the Daniels administration.

E-mails also revealed that Hardy had a chummy relationship with officials at Duke, which has been embroiled in cost overruns at its $3 billion Edwardsport coal-gasification generating plant. Those overruns have been fought at the commission by industrial electric customers and by Indianapolis-based Citizens Action Coalition.

CAC supports the concept of an elected consumer utility counselor, arguing that appointees ultimately are beholden to the agenda of the governor.

Daniels has been a proponent of Duke’s Edwardsport plant, citing its benefits to the state’s coal-mining industry and the potential to reduce air pollution compared with traditional coal-fired plants.

The IURC has for years been a revolving door for employment to and from utility companies.

Last month, a Marion County grand jury indicted Hardy on three counts of official misconduct.

Under Moses’ bill, the elected OUCC chief would receive an annual salary of $100,000, the same as Stippler's salary.

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  • Another Bad Idea
    This is a terrible idea, and what is surprising is that it is coming from a usually reliable, sensible legislator. When I first saw the headline, I thought this bill would have come from one of the neanderthals that comprise the Republican caucuses in both chambers, like Kruse, Banks, Delph or Waterman. People have no idea who they are electing to such offices as Supt of Public Instruction, Sec of State, Auditor or Treasurer. Why would this be any different? The average citizens' understanding of regulatory issues affecting utility matters is pretty thin, in my opinion. And why politicize this? Yes, the Daniels track record with the IURC has been abysmal, but just because of flawed appointments, don't assume that an election would be any better. What next: elections for Court Reporter/Clerk? Oh yeah, we tried that once before. Do we miss that office holder?

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

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