Sunday, February 03, 2013
Ind. Law - "Utility users: Watch legislature carefully"
The Indianapolis Star had this letter from Kerwin Olson, Executive director Citizens Action Coalition, on page B9 today, but I was unable to find an online link:
The fate of monthly utility bills and the future of Indiana energy policy will be a hot topic of discussion during the 2013 session of the Indiana General Assembly.
Once again, the proposed coal-to-gas plant to be built in Rockport by Indiana Gasification will be the subject of legislation. Two companion bills, SB 510 authored by Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown, and HB 1515 authored by Rep. Suzanne Crouch, R-Evansville, promise to protect consumers from what is certain to be excessive charges for the substitute natural gas to be produced by the proposed facility. By making this legislation the law of our state, captive Hoosier ratepayers will be protected from being gouged by an Enron like scheme that promises hefty returns for a privately held, out-of-state hedge fund.
Conversely, SB 560 authored by Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Monticello, guarantees that gas and electric ratepayers will face enormous increases in their bills as the legislation eliminates regulatory protections consumers are entitled to. SB 560 will shift almost all of the costs and risk of operating a utility company to ratepayers and away from investors. Additionally, SB 560 would allow utilities to raise rates virtually automatically and would further reduce regulatory oversight by placing unreasonable time restrictions on both the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor to review requests by utilities to raise your rates.
Should SB 560 become law, utility profits will become excessive as they will have little incentive to control costs while more expensive, risky and obsolete technologies will continue to be chosen over cheaper, cleaner and less risky alternatives.