Indiana counselor 'deeply concerned' about Duke plant

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indiana's advocate for utility ratepayers said Monday he is "deeply concerned" about the mounting cost of a coal-gasification plant Duke Energy Corp. is building and urged state regulators to protect Duke's customers from the cost overruns.

Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler's comments came four months after Duke Energy revealed the cost of its southwestern Indiana plant had grown to nearly $2.9 billion, or about twice the project's original 2007 estimate.

In its April request to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for permission to pass the higher costs onto its customers, Duke said those costs had risen $530 million, or 23 percent, since November largely due to design changes that required more materials.

Stippler said in a statement Monday that his office, which represents ratepayers before the commission, scrutinized Duke's request and information the company provided about the project. He said he was not swayed by Duke's arguments.

Stippler said the review left him "deeply concerned about the dramatic rise in the project's costs in this short period of time" and also worried about Duke's "apparent inability" to control the 630-megawatt plant's costs.

"Utilities have a responsibility to demonstrate that rate-recovered costs, including increases to approved costs, are reasonable, necessary and prudent," he said. "Unfortunately, Duke Energy has not met this burden of proof" in its request that the panel allow it to add more than a half-billion dollars to the amount ratepayers would end up footing.

Stippler urged the commission, which has the final say on utilities' rate increase requests, to provide safeguards to Duke's customers by capping the plant's overall costs at an amount significantly lower than the $2.88 billion Duke wants customers to foot.

He also recommended the commission end a financial incentive allowing Duke to increase earnings by deferring income taxes. Stippler said removing that incentive would quickly save Duke's Indiana ratepayers tens of millions of dollars.

The IURC is scheduled to hold a hearing Sept. 16 in Indianapolis on Duke's request.

If approved by regulators, Duke's Indiana customers would see on average an overall 19-percent rate increase phased in by 2013.

Duke spokeswoman Angeline Protogere said the Charlotte, N.C.-based company has done its best to hold down the cost of the plant, which Duke has said would be the first of its kind on such a scale.

Unlike traditional coal-fired power plants that burn coal to produce electricity, the new plant will convert coal into a synthetic gas processed to remove some pollutants such as mercury and sulfur. The gas is then burned in a traditional turbine power plant to produce electricity.

The new plant, set to go online in 2012, will replace a 160-megawatt coal-fired plant.

Protogere said plant construction is about 45-percent complete at the site along the White River near Edwardsport, about 15 miles northeast of Vincennes.

Environmental and government watchdog groups have sued to try to halt the plant, calling it a huge waste of money that would be better spent on renewable energy such as wind farms and promoting energy efficiency.

Kerwin Olson, program director for the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, said construction of the plant should be immediately halted and Duke should be required to pay a big portion of the plant's costs.

"Duke should be required to eat all of the costs they incurred since May 2008, when they first realized that their initial estimates were way off base," he said. "We believe the ultimate protection for ratepayers is canceling the project today."


  • IndyPat
    Every one talks about alternative energy and less polution with the same or great level of use and consumption.
    But no one wants to pay the cost of the change.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I keep wondering why I keep hearing about this problem of corporations leaving America, and I never hear a reasonable proposal to lower corporate tax rates and raise personal rates on income from capital gains and dividends, especially for high earners. It is just too simple of a solution for Congress to embrace?

  2. Are you financially down and you need money to settle your dept,or you need money to start up a business or to invest on a huge business,we also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at low interest rate , loan terms determinant,Loan amount between the sum of $5,000.00 to $100,000,000.00. US Dollars And Euro. Loan for developing businesses a competitive edge/ business expansion. We Offer The Following Kinds Of Loans. Personal Loans (Secure and Unsecured) Business Loans (Secure and Unsecured) Consolidation Loan FIRST INFORMATIONS NEEDED ARE: BORROWER’S DATA’S INFORMATION,FILL AND RETURN FOR QUICK START UP PROCESS. Name:_________ Last Name:_________ Age:_________ Contact Address:_________ Country:_________ Amount Needed as Loan:_________ Loan Duration:_________ Phone Number__________ Monthly Income/Yearly Income:_________ Purpose for Loan:_________ Occupation:_________ How Soon is Loan Needed__________ Email via: albertbrownfirm@outlook.com

  3. is a disaster. SR37 already needs to be built to interstate standards between 465 and SR144. Southport Road is a mess each morning and evening.

  4. Bass Pro Shops would be good for the mall as well as a Giant Eagle Market District or a Jungle Jim's International Market Place grocery store like the one near Cincinnati Ohio.A Disney quest indoor theme park would be good.An Academy outdoor store would be good too.Indoor Circus shows and magic shows would be good as well. A casino with sports bar would be good.A Disney theater inside that shows movies and Broadway shows would work.Nashville Tennessee concert shops with indoor neon lights would be good.How about a theater that shows travel shows and theme parks. A train store would be good.How about a giant toy store with high tech video games.

  5. This development is in addition to Allpoints Midwest 5, Aitrtek, a recent FedEx and more in Plainfield. Greenwood and Brownsburg also have similar projects.