Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Coal-to-Gas Plant Heads to Court ; Indiana Supreme Court Will Hear Rockport Case

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Coal-to-Gas Plant Heads to Court ; Indiana Supreme Court Will Hear Rockport Case

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - The battle over the future of the $2.8 billion coal-to-gas plant proposed to be built at Rockport, Ind., is moving to the Indiana Supreme Court. The five-member high court announced Thursday it will take up the case - a move that both advocates and opponents of the plant hoped would happen. The court has yet to schedule a date for oral arguments.

The stakes are high for the project developers, their opponents, the Spencer County community and all Indiana residents who purchase natural gas.

Indiana state lawmakers, who have soured on the project, approved a new regulatory measure developers say would scuttle their effort, and the only way to avoid that measure's impact is a big win in court.

"This could be a great thing or a disaster for us - we'll find out, I guess," said Kerwin Olson, the executive director of Citizens Action Coalition, which is working to block the Rockport project from moving forward.

"Hopefully they take into account the renewed will of the General Assembly on this project - and we'll see."

The battle is over the wisdom of a 30-year contract that the Indiana Finance Authority signed to buy and then resell the synthetic natural gas produced at the Rockport plant that is being financed by Leucadia National Corp.

The contract would tie 17 percent of what all Indiana residential and commercial natural gas users are charged each month to the pre- negotiated prices associated with the Rockport plant, rather than the usual, open-market rates.

Advocates of the plant's construction, including the developers, Rockport city officials and the Indiana Coal Council, whose members hope to sell their product to the plant, say ratepayers are guaranteed to save money over the long haul.

But opponents - led by Vectren Corp., but including the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana Manufacturers Association and several consumer advocacy groups - say it's an inappropriate bet for the state to make. …

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