The Rockport coal gasification plant is the second recent Indiana energy project boondoggle. Vectren was right to withdraw from the first one in 2007, and it is right to oppose Rockport now.
The first project is the coal gasification plant at Edwardsport, where the construction costs are out of control, and the plant is shrouded in scandal. Duke Energy Indiana ratepayers are already paying hundreds of millions of dollars for the plant -- although it’s not running and won’t be completed for months.
On Wednesday Nov. 3, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) conducted a hearing on the continued need for Duke Energy’s coal gasification plant currently under construction at Edwardsport, Ind. The plant is way off its original price tag of $1.2 billion. The cost is now close to $3 billion and counting.
Indiana’s consumer counselor, David Stippler, stated at the hearing that, for economic development purposes and the use of Indiana coal, it would be a “sin” not to complete construction of the plant and use our “God-given” resource, Indiana coal.
What's missing from the climate/energy debate in Congress and the U.S. Senate is any discussion on cost. It's amazing that these worshippers of the "free" market have neither debated the merits of the Waxman-Markey Bill (HR 2454) or the Senate energy bill based on the relative costs of their preferred technologies, nor in the context of least cost -- to ratepayers and the economy as whole that is.
The concept of least cost in terms of our electric energy mix is extremely important if we're going to make utility bills affordable, create the jobs we need to, improve public health and effectively address global warming. Even for those who question global warming, least-cost analysis would bring you to the same conclusion with respect to the energy mix.
To illustrate the point, compare the construction costs of the following technologies based on 2007 data from a paper titles "Business Risks and Costs of Nuclear Power," by Craig Severance. Keep in mind that these costs do not include the public health costs associated with coal and nuclear power.
While the United States destroys its economic position by pursuing the short-term profit motives of the fossil fuel and nuclear industries, Abu Dhabi, within the United Arab Emirates, is decisively and strategically moving to accelerate development of renewable technology by using expertise from our own university system. The idea is to create a "world-class research and development hub for new (renewable) energy technologies" for export.
Thanks to influence peddling by the fossil fuel, nuclear and utility industries in Congress and state legislatures, the United States could soon be importing renewable and other advanced zero-carbon technology imports along with oil imports from the Middle East. So much for energy independence!
Fossil fuel generation is coming under increasing scrutiny as alternatives gain acceptance with Wall Street financial institutions.
In a revolutionary statement issued by three major investment houses last week, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley released their “Carbon Principles” and “Enhanced Diligence Process.” They consider these to be global warming “guidelines for advisors and lenders to power companies in the United States.”