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The Scoop

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Verbatim: Public hearings sought on Duke Energy plant

Statement issued Thursday by the Citizens Action Coalition:

A coalition of consumer and environmental organizations filed a request today with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission that two public field hearings be scheduled regarding the cost increases pertaining to the problem plagued IGCC power plant currently under construction in Knox County by Duke Energy. The coalition also questions Duke Energy’s continued need for the overly expensive project.

“Given the ethical and legal questions swirling around the decisions made regarding the Edwardsport plant, its escalating cost, and the questionable need for the plant in relation to more economic alternatives, we urge the IURC to hold several public hearings at locations and times accessible for public comment by Duke ratepayers, who ultimately will foot the bill for this expensive experiment”, said Steve Francis, state chairperson for the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter.

Citizens Action Coalition has gathered over 450 signatures to date from Duke Ratepayers requesting that hearings be held. Due to the overwhelming response from the public, CAC intends to continue the petition drive until the hearings are scheduled. Only one public hearing has been held to date regarding the plant. That was in Bloomington in 2007 where hundreds attended and dozens spoke, the majority in opposition to the project. “Duke’s customers saw this disaster coming three years ago,” states Kerwin Olson, Program Director for CAC. “The question is why Duke’s management and regulators didn’t also see it coming. Could it be that they were blinded by the fact that Duke makes more and more money off the project the more expensive it becomes?” added Mr. Olson.

John Blair, president of the environmental health group Valley Watch, based in Evansville asserted: “This plant has increased ratepayer risk substantially since it was first approved by the IURC. Now we know about the cozy and corrupt connection between Duke and the IURC by the ongoing scandal that has come to light. It is time to allow the public to again weigh in on the need and veracity of the ill fated Edwardsport project with hearings throughout the Duke service territory.”

Richard Hill, President of Save the Valley, an environmental group based in Madison, added: “We believe there are numerous unanswered questions regarding the need and costs of this plant. A public hearing is needed to bring those questions to light.”

“This plant never should have been approved in the first place,” states Grant Smith, Executive Director of CAC. “We have been saying from the beginning that first and foremost, this plant is not needed. Secondly, Duke Ratepayers should not be mandated to foot the bill for a science project. Costs are soaring because of what we view as incompetence and mismanagement by Duke. Ratepayers should be given the opportunity to voice their opinions since they are currently the involuntary financiers of this boondoggle.”

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