INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Court of Appeals has decided not to conduct a more detailed review of a nearly $3 billion coal-gasification plant proposed for southern Indiana thats also the target of legislation before state lawmakers.
The court Thursday turned down a request by a group of gas companies and environmental groups for it to scrutinize the Indiana Finance Authoritys 30-year contract with the developers of the Rockport plant. That contract calls for the finance authority to buy the plants synthetic gas at a fixed rate and then resell it on the open market.
The Evansville Courier & Press reports that the courts decision could shift the legal battle over the plant to the Indiana Supreme Court.
Thats certainly going to be considered, said Mike Roeder, a spokesman for Evansville-based Vectren Corp., which is leading the legal and lobbying efforts against the plant.
Vectren and other opponents had wanted the appeals court to review the Indiana Utility Regulatory Committees previous review of the contract.
Thursdays court decision came as the plants developers told a state Senate committee that a bill the panel is considering would kill the project.
Mark Lubbers, the Indiana project manager for the coal-gasification plants financier Leucadia National Corp., called the courts decision yet another loss for Vectren.
They cant win on the merits, so Vectren is trying to pressure our legislators into submission with a high-profile media campaign and an army of lobbyists, he said.
That campaign includes full-page advertisements in newspapers across Indiana this week that focus on a bill the Senate Utility Committee heard Thursday morning. That bill, sponsored by Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown, would require rebates to consumers every three years if the plants synthetic gas costs too much. The 30-year deal would tie 17 percent of Hoosier gas users bills to the Rockport plants rate.
Opponents point to the current nationwide shale gas boom and said they expect natural gas to sell for an amount cheaper than that in the coming decades.