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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ind. Law - Still more on "Indiana legislator's bill could upset coal-gas plant plan at Rockport"

Updating this ILB post from Jan. 21st, Eric Bradner of the has this post at the Evansville Courier & Press blog, Capitol Journal - it begins:

A top Indiana lawmaker said the state’s 30-year deal to buy and then resell the proposed Rockport coal-to-gas plant’s product at a fixed rate needs a fresh review – either in the General Assembly or before utility regulators.

“Just the fact that the world has changed since this idea came into being requires us to take another look at it and see if it’s viable,” said state Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne.

Long said he’d like the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to review the contract once again – something Vectren Corp. has sued to force, since the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled last year that the contract needed some tweaks.

He said he is not willing to say “yet” that Indiana should try to kill the deal. But since natural gas prices that were around $13 per million British thermal units when the deal was negotiated have tumbled closer to $3 per unit now as a result of a shale gas boom, he said lawmakers “all have questions about it.”

“Energy prices have dropped substantially, and what looked like it had real potential when the price of gas was so much higher – now you have to bring into question whether it makes sense,” Long said.

“The idea of using coal in a cleaner way is a great idea, but whether or not this project per se is the way we go about it, given the costs associated with it, we have to ask those questions.”

Long’s comments come as the chairmen of the Indiana House and Senate utility committees consider holding a rare joint hearing on two bills that would revamp consumer protection mechanisms included in the contract.

More from the post:
House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said he agreed with Long that the deal should be reviewed.

“I would concur that the world has changed since that project first hit the books here in Indiana,” he said. * * *

Bosma said he has “some philosophical concerns” related to the state’s role in advancing the Rockport plant, and that he is not sure lawmakers would have approved the project at all if they knew how it’d turn out.

“There were some revisions to the original program that didn’t receive a lot of attention that collectively, now, when you look back at the program, you wonder if it would have passed that way in the first place,” Bosma said. “I think it is fair to have a fresh look at the program.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 24, 2013 02:13 PM
Posted to Indiana Law