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Indiana Supreme Court To Decide Fate Of Rockport Plant

The court is determining whether a contract between the state and the company in charge of the coal gasification plant is valid.

Indiana Supreme Court chamber

Photo: Scutter (flickr)

The Indiana Supreme Court chamber

The future of a coal-to-natural gas plant in Rockport is in the hands of the Indiana Supreme Court, which has decided to take up the case.

Rockport coal gasification plant owners Leucadia signed a 30-year contract with the state in 2011. It requires the state buys gas from Rockport at a predetermined price, rather than using market rates. The state then resells the energy source.

Opponents of the deal, who filed a lawsuit seeking to nullify the contract, say it will drive up Hoosiers’ utility bills.

The Court of Appeals struck down the contract because of problems in a 37-word clause. That is when the legislature weighed in, passing a bill that imposes stricter ratepayer protections if the contract is sent back to the Utility Regulatory Commission.

Sen. Doug Eckerty (R-Yorktown), who wrote the bill, says if the Supreme Court upholds the contract entirely, the legislation has no impact.

“It’s not our job to interfere with ongoing court cases or tell the Supreme Court how to do their jobs,” he says.

But if the Court forces the IURC to reexamine the contract, Rockport developers have said the new standards imposed by the legislation will kill the plant.

Eckerty says the legislature’s goal was to ensure the contract is in the best interests of ratepayers.

“So we tried to strike a balance that it could live or that it could die but only based a really thorough, complete review all over again,” he says.

Efforts to contact representatives of Rockport owner Leucadia were unsuccessful. The Supreme Court has not announced a hearing date.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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