With critics saying Indiana ratepayers would have to shoulder more than $1 billion in losses over eight years, a proposed coal-gas plant in Rockport is likely to undergo significant scrutiny during the upcoming legislative session.
Not everyone believes such dire financial projections will come to fruition. But for those who do, a troubling question remains: Can anything even be done to alter the Rockport deal? . . .
Even a state senator who helped author the enabling legislation in 2009 concedes it might be time to re-examine the deal.
"I think the numbers are speculative but worthy of discussion," said Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek. "If there is a need for enhanced or renewed review, there is nothing wrong with that."
Getting out of the deal could be difficult. Under the contract with Indiana Gasification, the state is permitted to walk away from the deal only under very specific conditions, such as default, bankruptcy, or missed deadlines. Indiana Gasification, on the other hand, is permitted to cancel the deal if it determines that construction of the plant is economically unfeasible for any reason, though the company would be banned from selling gas from the plant to anyone else . . .
Mark Lubbers, Indiana project director for Indiana Gasification and a former chief adviser to Daniels, said if the state pulled out of the contract, there would probably be damages involved, though he wasn't sure about the extent.
"I don't know, and if I did, I probably wouldn't advertise it," he said . . .