Daniels: Duke Energy Should Underwrite Edwardsport Plant

Governor Wants Plant Built, But Only If Duke Foots The Bill

Utility Company Duke Energy wants customers to underwrite $920 million in over budget expenses at its Edwardsport plant.

The Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor's Office said Duke was unqualified to build the plant and should be held responsible for going over budget, 6News' Norman Cox reported.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said he supports the recommendation and said he just wants to see the plant finished.

"I just want to see it there, using Indiana coal, paying Hoosiers, as opposed to people in other states paying for the energy we need," Daniels said.

Upon completion, Edwardsport will be the largest coal gasification plant in the world.

The plant will process Indiana coal into cleaner-burning natural gas which it will burn to produce electricity.

The Consumer Counselor's Office testimony said that Duke essentially botched the construction of the plant because it refused to hire a qualified outside construction manager to build it.

As a result, the plant, which was supposed to cost $1.98 billion, ballooned to $2.9 billion.

"We believe that there is evidence of gross mismanagement, that there is evidence of concealment of information from us and from other parties," said consumer counselor spokesman Anthony Swinger. "We believe it's reasonable at this point to recommend that the cost be kept at the original amount."

Duke officials declined an on-camera interview with 6News, but issued a statement instead.

"We have diligently managed this project and will respond through our own regulatory testimony," Duke officials said.

The Consumer Counselor's Office also cited an alleged ethics scandal involving secret communications between Duke executives and state regulators as a reason for denying the utility's reimbursement.

Hearings on the cost overruns will take place starting in late October, officials said.