The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Duke Energy Indiana, the Duke Energy Indiana Industrial Group and Nucor Steel - Indiana have reached a settlement agreement on a new cost estimate for Duke Energy Indiana's Edwardsport coal gasification plant. The parties filed the agreement today with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).
"I am very pleased that we have been able to negotiate an agreement that will allow this project to proceed with strict customer safeguards," said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler. "While the OUCC continues to support the completion of the project, the caps placed on construction costs in this agreement resolve the major concerns we raised in testimony last month about cost overruns and rising expenses."
Benefits in the agreement will offset any customer cost increases above the already approved $2.35 billion related to continued project construction until at least 2013.
In its most recent filing, the utility sought approval for an additional $530 million in construction costs for the Edwardsport integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) project, resulting in a new estimate of $2.88 billion.
Terms of the agreement provide that:
- Any construction costs exceeding $2.76 billion will be subject to refund following intense scrutiny in the utility's next base rate case.
- The total construction cost estimate that may be passed through to customers will be limited to $2.975 billion.
- Duke Energy Indiana will be prohibited from filing a base rate case before March 1, 2012.
- Customers will save more than $60 million annually in depreciation rate changes, deferred taxes, and reductions to shareholder returns.
- The company also agrees to lower its return on construction costs above $2.35 billion for the life of the plant.
The baseload facility now under construction at Edwardsport will replace a peaking unit that has been in operation since the 1940s. The new facility is an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant, designed to convert coal into a cleaner burning synthetic gas with nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury emissions to be removed from the gas before it is burned to generate electricity.
A copy of the settlement agreement is available on the OUCC's Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2625.htm. The settling parties are scheduled to file testimony on October 6, with a settlement hearing scheduled for late November.
(IURC Cause No. 43114 - IGCC4 - S1)
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) represents Indiana consumer interests before state and federal bodies that regulate utilities. As a state agency, the OUCC's mission is to represent all Indiana consumers to ensure quality, reliable utility services at the most reasonable prices possible through dedicated advocacy, consumer education, and creative problem solving. To learn more, visit www.IN.gov/OUCC.
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