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Consumer Advocate Recommends Cost Cap On Edwardsport Plant

Duke is now requesting approval of an additional $500 million, promping the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor to recommend a cap on total costs.

coal plant

Photo: Duke Energy (Flickr)

This plant, in Gibson County, is Duke's largest coal fired plant.

A consumer advocate says Duke Energy’s proposed cap on the cost of building its Edwardsport Coal Gasification Plant doesn’t go far enough.

In 2008, Duke Energy requested approval from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to raise rates to cover a $500 million increase in construction costs. Duke is now requesting approval of an additional $500 million, which prompted the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor to recommend that Duke place a cap on total costs.

But Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana Program Director Kerwin Olsen said Duke doesn’t even need the power that the plant would generate to serve its customers, let alone at taxpayer expense.

“This plant would have never been built in the first place had they not gotten the approval to shift all of the risk on to ratepayers. Wall street is reluctant and almost refusing to finance these facilities so the only reason this thing is being built is because Duke Energy is able to pass on all of the risk of this project to their rate payers,” said Olsen.

Duke Energy spokeswoman Angeline Protogere said customers usually pay for the power plants built to serve them. Protogere said the plant’s reduced environmental impact – producing 10 times the power as comparable plants while using one-tenth the water and cutting carbon emissions in half – is worth the outlay.

“We know how important it is to balance environmental priorities and adding cleaner generation to our system with the cost impact to our customers,” said Protogere.

The IURC will meet August 22nd to discuss the proposal.

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