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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - "Lawmakers could leave key decisions about the future of the $2.6 billion Rockport coal-to-gas plant in the hands of the Indiana Supreme Court"

So begins the lede to this long story today by Eric Bradner in the Evansville Courier & Press:

INDIANAPOLIS — Lawmakers could leave key decisions about the future of the $2.6 billion Rockport coal-to-gas plant in the hands of the Indiana Supreme Court under legislation set to receive a vote Thursday in the Senate Utility Committee.

The proposal is the latest wrinkle in this year’s wrangling over whether the state should try to get out of its 30-year contract with the plant’s developers. It would have the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission re-examine the deal if – and only if – courts ultimately declare it invalid.

The committee’s chairman, Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, authored the measure as an amendment to a bill that would have left the plant dead in its tracks. If courts kick the issue back to utility regulators, Merritt's proposal would instruct them to consider whether the project and the rates associated with it are in the "public interest."

Compared to the original bill, it’s a victory for Leucadia National Corp., which is financing the plant, and a set-back for a coalition of opponents led by Vectren Corp. and including several natural gas companies and consumer advocates.

“All the air is out of the balloon, but I really believe the IURC should be making these decisions, rather than the legislature. They are experts – they do this 24/7,” Merritt told the Courier & Press.

The Indiana Court of Appeals last year voided the contract, citing a specific provision that developers and the state quickly sought to remedy. Last week, the court turned down Vectren’s push to vet other portions of the deal.

That leaves the contract’s status in doubt. Leucadia officials insist that after the quick fix it’s now valid and just needs the IURC to green-light the tweak, and Vectren argues it’s not. That could make the Indiana Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter.

There is much more to the story.

See also this Feb. 14th story by Bradner, headed "Court of Appeals declines further review of proposed Rockport coal-to-gas plant."

See also this Feb. 14th ILB entry.

Here is the bill at issue, SB 510.

ILB: Several random points come to mind:

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 21, 2013 08:53 AM
Posted to Indiana Government