Indiana Court of Appeals Remands Duke Energy rate increase back to IURC

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   September 11, 2014  /   Posted in Duke Energy, Edwardsport IGCC Plant, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC)  /   No Comments

Appeals Court Questions Approval Of Utility Rate Increase

By 

Posted September 8, 2014

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission recently allowed Duke Energy to pass the costs of building its Edwardsport plant on to its customers.

the Duke Energy coal gasification plant in Edwardsport

Photo: Duke Energy (Flickr)

The construction of the Duke Energy coal gasification plant in Edwardsport has gone significantly over budget, prompting questions from environmental and consumer advocacy groups about the cost-sharing burden the company is putting on consumers.

A state appeals court is asking the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for more information on why it’s allowing Duke Energy to pass on costs of one of its power plants to consumers.

To cover the costs of building its coal gasification plant in Edwardsport, Duke Energy has asked the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to let it make up those costs in the form of rate increases. Those requests typically come in the form of requests for six month periods.

After hearing testimony from environmental groups and Duke Energy, the IURC has granted those requests.

But environmentalists are challenging those decision and, in a recent court ruling, the Indiana appeals court says the commission did not provide a convincing reasoning for why it approved one of the rate increases.

Specifically, the court questioned the reasonableness of Duke Energy’s three-month construction delay and the company’s statement that 50 percent of the Edwardsport plant was deemed to be in-service at that time of the request back in 2012.

Citizens Action Coalition Executive Director Kerwin Olson says the commission has been “rubberstamping” the energy companies’ requests without actually considering the facts.

“This is a good sign, hopefully, that the court of appeals will send a signal to the commission that they do have to respect the process and they do have to do more than just merely summarize the evidence before them,” Olson says.

Officials at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission say they are reviewing the case.

 

Download a copy of the decision HERE>

http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/09081412jsk.pdf

 

Indiana official tells Congressional committee EPA carbon rules will “cause significant harm to Hoosiers.”

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   September 10, 2014  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

GreenhouseIndiana.jpg

IN has different view on greenhouse gas rules

WASHINGTON – Officials from Indiana and other states gave members of Congress dramatically different views Tuesday of a proposed federal rule to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Tom Easterly, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, joined officials from Texas and Montana in heavily criticizing the plan at a House hearing.

“This proposal will cause significant harm to Hoosiers and most residents of the United States,” Easterly told a panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

By contrast, officials from Maryland and Washington state called the plan structurally sound and said the actions their states have already taken to reduce carbon dioxide emissions show it can be done without big increases in electricity rates or damage to the economy.

“Carbon pollution is a pressing matter for the state of Washington, and we have been eager 09for strong federal action to address it,” said David Danner, chairman of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. “Remember, too, that there are costs to the economy from taking no action.”

The testimony from Henry Darwin, director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, fell somewhere in the middle. Darwin questioned the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to act but said so far the agency appears to be listening to concerns the state has raised as the proposal is being refined.

“We are hopeful that, through collaboration, EPA and Arizona can develop a solution that is environmentally responsible, economically sustainable, and provides energy reliability so that we can prevent expensive and time-consuming legal challenges,” Darwin said.

Indiana is among the 12 states that have already filed a legal challenge in hopes of preventing the EPA from completing the rule.

The EPA is taking comments through Oct. 16 on the proposal and expects to complete the rule by next June.

Of the six states that were represented at the hearing Tuesday, all but the officials from Maryland and Washington said they would like more time to give EPA feedback before next month’s public comment deadline.

Under the proposed rule, Indiana would have to reduce by 20 percent the amount of carbon dioxide generated per unit of electricity by 2030. The target for each state is different because the EPA took into account how hard it would be for states to increase plant efficiencies, reduce energy demand, switch to renewable energy sources or use natural gas instead of coal — which sends more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for the amount of energy produced than any other energy source.

Easterly said Indiana will be harmed by the proposal because the state gets more than 80 percent of its power from coal-fired power plants. In addition, Indiana’s economy is more dependent on manufacturing than any other state and manufacturers use a lot of electricity.

As power costs rise, Easterly said, some manufacturers will look to reduce expenses and leave the U.S. for countries with “less efficient and more carbon intensive energy supplies.” That will increase, not decrease, the amount of carbon dioxide emissions globally, he said.

Easterly, however, said he does believe the United States needs a national plan for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. But, he said, EPA’s proposal is all pain and no gain.

A report released by the World Meteorological Organization Tuesday said greenhouse gases hit a record high in the atmosphere last year.

President Barack Obama is meeting with other world leaders later this month to discuss ways to reduce greenhouse gases globally.

Danner, of Washington state, said his region is already seeing the effects of carbon pollution. Warmer temperatures are increasing the population of pine bark beetles, which are devastating large tracts of forest land. The number of and cost of fighting large forest fires has increased. And acidification of the ocean is hurting the shellfish industry, Danner said.

Unlike Indiana, however, Washington state gets a very small share of its power from coal-fired plants.

But Kelly Speakes-Backman, head of the Maryland Public Service Commission, said her state has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions despite getting more than half its power from coal-fired plants. After increasing the use of renewable energy and natural gas and implementing energy efficiency programs, the state went from getting 56 percent of its power from coal to 44 percent.

“If there’s one message I would leave with you today,” Speakes-Backman said, “it’s that it is possible to achieve emission reductions while supporting economic goals.”

IPL Breaks Ground on Eagle Valley Natural Gas Plant to replace coal-fired power plant near Martinsville (IN)

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   September 06, 2014  /   Posted in AES, Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL)  /   No Comments

IPL Breaks Ground On Natural Gas Plant In Martinsville

By SARAH FENTEM

Posted September 4, 2014

Indianapolis Power and Light plans to replace its current coal-fired power plant near Martinsville with a new natural gas plant.

ipl officials break ground

Photo: Bill Shaw/WTIU News

IPL and state officials break ground on the new natural gas facility near Martinsville.

Representatives from Indianapolis Power and Light broke ground this morning on a $600 million power plant near Martinsville.

The natural gas plant will replace the nearby coal-burning Eagle Valley electric plant.

Once it’s complete, IPL officials say the natural gas facility will cut carbon emissions by 50 percent.  It will also reduce sulfur and nitric oxide emissions.

IPL President Kelly Huntington says new federal  regulations on power plants mean updating the existing power plant would have more expensive than starting over with a new one.

“It’s not economical to continue running that plant with the environmental controls we would have to put in, so instead what we’re doing is we’re replacing it with a very modern, new, efficient natural gas plant that allows us to comply with the EPA regulations, but allows us to do it at a very affordable price,” Huntington says.

The transition to natural gas isn’t unique to IPL. Several other companies, including Duke Energy, are shutting down coal fired power

Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann was at the groundbreaking ceremony and says natural gas has become a large facet of the state’s energy plan.

“We’ve always said it’s an ‘all of the above’ energy plan in Indiana in terms of ensuring affordable, reliable energy, and right now natural gas is very affordable,” Ellspermann says.

The IPL plant is scheduled to be completed in 2017.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence Names James Huston to Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC)

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   September 03, 2014  /   Posted in Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Jim Huston Chief of Staff

Jim Huston

Indianapolis – Governor Mike Pence today named James Huston as Commissioner of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC). Huston will fill the current vacancy on the IURC created by the resignation of Commissioner Jim Atterholt, who now serves as the Governor’s Chief of Staff. Effective immediately, Huston will serve the remainder of Atterholt’s term, which expires on March 31, 2017.

“With a lifetime of public service, James Huston’s commitment to Indiana is unmatched,” said Pence. “His proven leadership and unique background will go far as he continues his service to Hoosiers as Commissioner of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.”

Huston currently serves as Chief of Staff at the Indiana State Department of Health. From 2011 to early 2013, he served as Executive Director of the Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives. Huston has held a variety of leadership positions throughout his more than 30-year career at both the federal and state level, including time spent as assistant deputy treasurer for the State in 1989 and Deputy Commissioner for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles from late 1986 to 1987. He is a 1987 recipient of the Sagamore of the Wabash Award and a member of Brownsburg Kiwanis. Huston earned his undergraduate degree from Ball State University.

For additional information about Huston see http://www.in.gov/isdh/25125.htm.

Melink 3.2 MW Rooftop Solar PV Ribbon Cutting Ribbon 9/5/14; Made possible by IPL voluntary feed-in tariff (VFIT)

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   September 01, 2014  /   Posted in Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), IPL Rate REP, Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Project Detail

New to Indianapolis–3.2 MW, 12,264 solar PV modules!

Project Partners: Melink Corporation, Equity Industrial Partners, Indianapolis Power & Light, Union Bank & Trust Company, U.S. Bancorp, TMI Electric, REC Americas, Ecolibrium Solar, and Solectria Renewables

This is another solar PV installation made possible by the Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL) Rate REP voluntary feed-in tariff (VFIT).

Please let IndianaDG know if you are planning a similar ribbon cutting event for solar, renewable energy and distributed generation projects!

 

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