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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ind. Decisions - More on "Appeals court overturns Rockport coal-gasification contract"

Supplementing yesterday's ILB entry, here is an updated version of Ken Kusmer's AP story, here in Business Week. It includes:

Finance Authority attorney Andrew Kienle said the agency hopes to get a new deal done by the end of the year. He said the agency expects an amended contract will satisfy the court's concerns.

However, the court's reversal of regulatory approval provided an opening for opponents of the deal who contend it will leave utility customers on the hook for costly synthetic gas at a time when natural gas prices have fallen on the open market. An amended deal would need fresh approval from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, and opponents might have time to ask the Legislature to revisit the agreement.

"There should be no doubt that the Indiana Legislature now has the opportunity to reshape this project in such a way that is balanced and fair," said Mike Roeder, a vice president at gas utility Vectren, which contends the deal will cost Indiana residential customers and small businesses more than $1 billion during its first eight years. Roeder said the company was reviewing the ruling. * * *

The three-member appeals panel, in the ruling written by Justice Patricia Riley, appeared satisfied with Indiana Gasification's promise that the deal will deliver savings to utility customers. It found the contract inappropriately defined companies that transport natural gas for industrial users as retail customers when that wasn't legislators' intent in a 2009 law allowing the deal.

The appeals panel's chief justice, Margret Robb, concurred on most of the majority opinion but issued a dissent saying the court should have struck down only the portion of the contract dealing with the industrial transport companies and let the rest of the contract stand.

Kerwin Olson, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Citizens Action Coalition, agreed with Roeder that the General Assembly should reconsider the law that allowed the deal because it "throws Indiana consumers to the wolves."

"This law needs to go and here's hoping that the Legislature has the courage to do the right thing for their constituents and get this abomination of the law off the books in the upcoming session," Olson said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 31, 2012 09:02 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions