« Law - "Alcohol, smoking and gaming issues may return to the Statehouse" and "Same-sex marriage has role in November election" | Main | Ind. Decisions - Upcoming oral arguments this week and next »

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Ind. Gov't. - "Lawmakers want 2nd look at Rockport coal-gas plant deal"

In this Sept. 30th entry, the ILB asked:

Is there anything the next Governor of the General Assembly could do, if they wanted to, to stop or alter this project, or are the Indiana ratepayers already locked in?
Today in a lengthy Tony Cook of the Indianapolis Star asks the same question. Some quotes:
With urging from Gov. Mitch Daniels, lawmakers enabled and the state finance authority signed a controversial 30-year deal with the plant's developer, Indiana Gasification.

Under the agreement, the state must buy gas from the plant and sell it on the open market for a profit. If it can't, natural gas ratepayers must cover the loss on their monthly bills.

The risk to ratepayers has prompted some lawmakers to call for the deal to be reviewed, revised or scrapped. * * *

Getting out of the deal could be difficult. Under the contract with Indiana Gasification, the state is permitted to walk away from the deal only under very specific conditions, such as default, bankruptcy, or missed deadlines. Indiana Gasification, on the other hand, is permitted to cancel the deal if it determines that construction of the plant is economically unfeasible for any reason, though the company would be banned from selling gas from the plant to anyone else.

"It's well and good that some elected officials have seen the light," said Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, a consumer group that, along with Vectren Corp., is appealing the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission's approval of the deal. But, he said, "It seems on the surface that the state is locked in." * * *

"Retroactive legislation is a very difficult thing to accomplish," Olsen said, adding that Indiana Gasification would likely sue the state for breach of contract.

Mark Lubbers, Indiana project director for Indiana Gasification and a former chief adviser to Daniels, said if the state pulled out of the contract, there would probably be damages involved, though he wasn't sure about the extent.

"I don't know, and if I did, I probably wouldn't advertise it," he said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 7, 2012 08:07 PM
Posted to Indiana Government