Complaint Tests Vectren's Pull on Renewable Energy Usage

By Sikich, Chris | Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current), July 23, 2013 | Go to article overview

Complaint Tests Vectren's Pull on Renewable Energy Usage


Sikich, Chris, Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)


HAUBSTADT, Ind. - Third-grade teacher Donya Bengert and her students learned a real-life lesson when they undertook a yearlong project to build a wind turbine in 2010 at their school. They raised $25,000 from business grants and penny-jar donations. They won governmental and school board approvals. But when they were ready to install the turbine, Vectren Energy charged a $12,000 fee for a new transformer it said was necessary to handle the additional energy load.

"I almost had a heart attack," Bengert told The Indianapolis Star. "Oh my gosh, we spent almost a year raising all this money, we've got it all and we're ready to go.

"But Vectren didn't want to do it."

The project's installer, Brad Morton of Evansville-based Morton Solar & Wind, has filed a complaint with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. He alleges that Vectren has violated state code the past eight years to stop or slow a number of renewable energy projects on which he has worked.

Vectren disputes the allegations, saying the utility follows state regulations and works to ensure renewable projects are safely added to the grid.

Morton and Vectren have a preliminary hearing scheduled Thursday.

Renewable energy advocates and contractors are watching the case closely as they try to convince state policymakers and utilities that Indiana needs to encourage cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels such as coal. They say the filing could have a wide effect on how much money utilities charge and how long they can take to process applications to fully connect solar and wind projects to the electrical grid. …

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