Thursday, April 04, 2013

Rockport Developer Claims Legislation Requiring More Regulatory Review Would Kill Deal: Then Pass It

That controversial coal gasification project at Rockport that is all about making hundreds of millions of dollars for former Gov. Mitch Daniels' political cronies on the backs of Indiana gas utility consumers is back in the news. Indiana lawmakers are considering legislation that would require Indiana utility regulators, who should have never signed off on a deal that was so obviously intended to screw over utility consumers in the first place, to take another look at the one-sided deal. A spokesman for Leucadia, former State Rep. Mike Murphy, claims the deal is dead if the legislation becomes law. The Evansville Courier-Press' Eric Bradner has his reaction:
“If this bill passes as-is, the deal is dead. It is dead, and the largest economic development project of the next decade is gone,” said Mike Murphy, a spokesman for Indiana Gasification LLC, the company launched to run a project being financed by Leucadia National Corp.
The controversy is over a deal between developers and the Indiana Finance Authority, which under former Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a 30-year contract to buy the plant’s synthetic natural gas at a fixed rate and then resell it on the open market. Hoosier ratepayers would serve as guaranteed buyers benefitting from any savings compared to market rates and footing the bill for losses.
The project is opposed by Vectren Corp., which is fighting a two-front battle to block the plant by lobbying lawmakers to beef up the deal’s protections for natural gas customers and asking courts to block the 30-year deal from moving forward . . .

“It accomplishes Vectren’s goal of dragging us down into a pit of quicksand, of bureaucratic morass which we can never extricate ourselves from, because it starts all the due processes over,” Murphy said.

But Mike Roeder, Vectren’s vice president of government affairs and communications, said he thinks developers are crying wolf.

“I don’t hear anything new. Remember, this thing’s been changed five times since 2007, and every time the other side wanted something, they said, ‘If you don’t give us this, it’ll kill the plant,’” he said.

“We have been focused on protecting consumers and encouraging legislators to give prescriptive direction to the commission, should they get another opportunity to review a contract.”
What's actually happening now that wasn't happening when Gov. Daniels was ramming this deal down our throats to make a pile of money for his political cronies is exactly how State Rep. Suzanne Crouch (R-Evansville) explains it:
“The 2 million natural gas ratepayers in Indiana do not have well-heeled lobbyists working the halls of the Indiana General Assembly on their behalf. It is up to legislators to look out for their interests and protect them,” said Crouch, who is sponsoring the bill in the House.
“At the end of the day, we, the legislature, need to ensure that our children and our children’s children are not burdened by unreasonable, unnecessary rate increases,” she said.
The best way to describe the sweetheart deal Leucadia inked with the Daniels administration for the development of its Rockport coal gasification plant is how lobbyist Kip Tew explained his job to Star political columnist Matt Tully: “What I do most of the time here is help one rich guy get a bigger piece of the market share than another rich guy.”


Unigov said...

Crouch's statement is "good government" in action. A rarity !

Flogger said...

Rockport has the Hallmarks of what has went wrong in America.

Crony-Capitalism and subsidies to guarantee a profit to a Private Company. What is disgusting is to realize how far this "Project" has moved along.

Hopefully, a big anchor can be attached to this Project, and it can sink under it's own weight into the deep sea.