The effort of Duke Energy to build an Integrated Gasification and Combined Cycle (IGCC) coal plant in Edwardsport, Indiana – or “clean coal” plant – has met with large cost over runs and considerable scandal in the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
In April of 2010, Duke Energy announced that the project’s scale and complexity would add approximately $530 million to the previously approved $2.35 billion estimate. That brought the total estimated cost of the plant to $2.88 billion. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) capped the costs of the Edwardsport coal gasification project that are passed on to consumers at $2.975 billion. Its construction costs are nearly double the original 2007 estimate.
With approval from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), customer rates are expected to rise between 14-16% annually. The rate increase will not come at once; costs began phasing into rates in January 2009, and gradually will be added to bills through 2013.
But significant controversy surrounds the IURC and it’s decision to appove the much-increased costs of the IGCC coal plant: Scott Storms, an IURC attorney and administrative law judge, allegedly discussed employment with Duke while presiding over hearings concerning the utility. Storms left the IURC in September for a new position in Duke’s regulatory division. Storms had handled matters related to the coal-gasification plant and consumer watchdogs from the Citizens Action Coalition say “(The IURC) has essentially given Duke Energy a blank check. We question all of those orders and the motivation behind them.” Storm has been placed on administrative leave with pay.
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