Thursday, March 20, 2014
Ind. Decisions - More on: In a Not for Publication opinion, the COA "upholds 16 percent rate increase for Duke customers"
Duke Energy won approval from an Indiana court Wednesday to raise electricity rates to pay for its $3.5 billion Edwardsport coal-gasification power plant.
The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled unanimously against environmental and consumer groups that sought to overturn a 2012 settlement between Duke and state regulators that authorized a 16 percent increase in the monthly bills of 790,000 Indiana customers. * * *
The appeals court acknowledged the cost overruns, but it said that state regulators had taken that into account. It also said that Duke had made plans for possible future requirements that it control carbon emissions at the plant, another aspect of the project that the groups had challenged.
The activist groups, including the Sierra Club and the Citizens Action Coalition, had also raised questions about an ethics flap that arose after Duke officials and regulators were found to be discussing the project's rising costs before an initial 2010 agreement that was later withdrawn.
But the judges said that "despite substantiation of improprieties prior to submission of a first settlement," the second settlement was valid because the officials accused of misconduct were no longer involved.
Citizens Action Coalition Executive Director Kerwin Olson said the ruling confirmed the challengers' belief that Edwardsport was a collaboration between Duke and the state government.
"This ruling kind of confirms our opinion that the fix is in regarding Edwardsport," Olson told the Associated Press. "We really feel like this is one of those cases for whatever reason the state of Indiana chooses to ignore the evidence and the facts to protect this power plant for some reason," he said. Olson said his group will seek a rehearing or appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 20, 2014 08:56 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions