Indiana's utility watchdog continues to disregard the grassroots citizens groups asking for more transparency in the construction of one of the nation's most costly new power plants - Duke Energy's Edwardsport Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Station. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission last week denied requests to delay the deadline for testimony and evidentiary filings for a semi-annual review of the plant's construction progress and costs, allowing the groups only three days to file their testimony and, according to a CAC news release, " leaving a litany of important and critical issues unexplored by the groups' expert witnesses." Meanwhile ratepayer advocates also face a June 29 testimony-filing deadline and hearings, set to begin July 16, regarding the settlement between Duke Energy and the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor. The OUCC and industrial ratepayers have been fighting to cap rate increases related to Duke's cost overruns at a plant. Duke originally estimated the plant's cost at $1.985 billion; now they are expected to top $3.3 billion. In separate Duke news, the company continues to pursue a merger with Progress Energy, which would make it the nation's largest electric utility. Also of note, Duke is due in federal court to defend itself against the charge it paid kickbacks to large companies in Cincinnati in exchange for support of proposed rate increases. Meanwhile, Marion Superior Court Judge James Osborn this week denied a motion to drop the four felony charges against David Lott Hardy, the former IURC chairman fired for playing hanky-panky with Duke.
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