“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 . . .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:
“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.”
“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.”