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A Legislator Says Enough is Enough for the Proposed Gasification Plant

February 23, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS - A House committee has stripped tax breaks for the proposed Indiana Gasification Substitute Natural Gas plant. State Rep. Suzanne Crouch (R-Evansville) voted for the project in 2007. She says she still backs the plant, but has growing concerns about it.

"They came back to us and said they needed some tweaks and some more adjustments to make the project viable. They did that in 2008, they did it in 2009, they did it in 2010, they did it in 2011 and now here we are 2012 and we've got to do one more thing in order to make the project viable and allow it to go forward."

Crouch says before her amendment, language in SB 344 placed an undo burden on consumers by exempting industrial customers from having to purchase gas from the Rockport facility. It also said the plant could use non-coal sources and out-of-state coal.

The time has come for the proposed Rockport Indiana gasification facility to stand on its own, Crouch says.

"While I'm still for the project, I think that as a General Assembly we have provided them with enough tools to make that project viable. Every year since 2007 we have voted for a legislative fix. My question today was when is enough enough?"

Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, says before Crouch's amendment the senate bill exempted industrial customers from buying Rockport's gas. That would leave smaller businesses and household consumers footing the bill for decades to come, he says.

"This is a big win. I hope that delaying that process will ultimately lead to the cancellation of the facility."

Last fall, Indiana regulators approved a contract for the state to purchase nearly all the plant's gas over the next 30 years. The state will pay a price determined by a formula and sell the gas on the market. Customers of the state's gas utilities would share in profits - or have to pay more, to make up losses.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN