The head of Duke Energy is defending his corporation before Indiana regulators this week. Duke Chairman and CEO James Rogers took to the witness stand Wednesday during the first day of hearings by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission into problems at the $3 billion plant in Edwardsport.
Rogers says the company managed the plant properly and did not conceal vital information. The IURC will decide whether Duke customers must pay for close to a billion dollars in cost overruns. Regulators originally approved the plant at a cost of $1.985 billion.
The IURC also will determine whether Duke committed fraud, concealment or gross mismanagement. If so, Duke could be forced to cover most or all of the costs instead of passing them along in the form of rate hikes. Rogers has defended his company‘s performance, attributing cost overages to the fact that the plant is the first of its kind.
“We knew it was a mega project,” he says. “We knew we were scaling up technology and we were given over $460 million in tax incentives to take on the assignment of scaling this technology.”
But opponents of the plant claim company leaders held several secret meetings with Indiana officials, violating state regulations. They also say Duke Energy knew the plant would cost much more than the initial estimate. The hearings are expected to last up to two weeks at the IURC offices in downtown Indianapolis.