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IURC to re-examine Duke project amid ethics flap

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The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission said it will review four years of cases regarding Duke Energy Corp.’s expensive Edwardsport coal-gasification plant amid a growing ethics controversy involving the company and state regulators.

The commission has also summoned Jim Rogers, the CEO of North Carolina-based Duke, to justify anew the need for the Edwardsport plant, during a hearing on Nov. 3.

In addition, the State Ethics Commission on Thursday filed formal charges against Scott Storms, the IURC former top attorney, for negotiating a job with Duke even as he participated in decisions regarding Duke and its Edwardsport plant. That behavior violates state conflict-of-interest statutes, the complaint alleges.

The Ethics Commission had initially OK’d attorney Storms’ September switchover to work at Duke.

Storms’ contact with Duke officials emerged in e-mails discovered in a probe by Gov. Mitch Daniels’ office, according to Duke. Daniels fired former IURC Commissioner David Hardy on Oct. 5 over the matter and Duke placed its Indiana CEO on administrative leave.

Now, the IURC has opened up its own investigation into the ethics flap, the commission announced Thursday.

Duke’s Edwardsport plant has been controversial as the costs for building it have climbed to $2.9 billion from initial estimates near $1.5 billion. In July, Storms signed off on Duke’s request to pass those costs on to customers.

The Edwardsport plant is already about 70 percent complete, and Duke recently reached a settlement with consumer groups to cap the plants costs at $2.975 billion. Those costs, when passed on to Duke customers, would raise their bills by about 16 percent between now and 2013.

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  • "Flap" devalues the story
    This is a major story that probably costs ratepayers millions and the IBJ uses the shallow, devaluing term "flap" as if it were a non-serious situation.
  • Interesting, but...
    ....didn't I read about all this stuff in the Indy Star?

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  1. How much you wanna bet, that 70% of the jobs created there (after construction) are minimum wage? And Harvey is correct, the vast majority of residents in this project will drive to their jobs, and to think otherwise, is like Harvey says, a pipe dream. Someone working at a restaurant or retail store will not be able to afford living there. What ever happened to people who wanted to build buildings, paying for it themselves? Not a fan of these tax deals.

  2. Uh, no GeorgeP. The project is supposed to bring on 1,000 jobs and those people along with the people that will be living in the new residential will be driving to their jobs. The walkable stuff is a pipe dream. Besides, walkable is defined as having all daily necessities within 1/2 mile. That's not the case here. Never will be.

  3. Brad is on to something there. The merger of the Formula E and IndyCar Series would give IndyCar access to International markets and Formula E access the Indianapolis 500, not to mention some other events in the USA. Maybe after 2016 but before the new Dallara is rolled out for 2018. This give IndyCar two more seasons to run the DW12 and Formula E to get charged up, pun intended. Then shock the racing world, pun intended, but making the 101st Indianapolis 500 a stellar, groundbreaking event: The first all-electric Indy 500, and use that platform to promote the future of the sport.

  4. No, HarveyF, the exact opposite. Greater density and closeness to retail and everyday necessities reduces traffic. When one has to drive miles for necessities, all those cars are on the roads for many miles. When reasonable density is built, low rise in this case, in the middle of a thriving retail area, one has to drive far less, actually reducing the number of cars on the road.

  5. The Indy Star announced today the appointment of a new Beverage Reporter! So instead of insightful reports on Indy pro sports and Indiana college teams, you now get to read stories about the 432nd new brewery open or some obscure Hoosier winery winning a county fair blue ribbon. Yep, that's the coverage we Star readers crave. Not.

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