Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bad Utility Legislation in the 2010 Indiana General Assembly:

From our friend in Indiana -

Bad Utility Legislation in the 2010 Indiana General Assembly:
The Taxpayer Wallet and the Ratepayer Wallet are Still the Same Wallet!

Current Bad Bills
HB 1081: Various Utility Matters
Authors: Dale Grubb, Eric Koch
Status: In the House Commerce, Energy, Technology and
Utilities Committee
Summary: CAC opposes this bill. Indiana utilities know they are going to have to move toward renewables and energy efficiency, so they want to define the term “renewable” to suit their needs. This bill defines coal as renewable, and would also force us to pay for all electric transmission lines and gas pipelines needed for biofuels facilities to go online in Indiana. Ratepayers pay for electrical service, not to subsidize industries that have nothing to do with the delivery of electricity to our homes. This bill is also loaded with trackers, which allow the utilities to raise our rates when their costs go up without having to lower our rates when their costs go down.

SB 69: Low-carbon and non-carbon dioxide emitting plants
Authors: Phil Boots
Status: In the Senate Utilities and Technology Committee
Summary: CAC opposes this bill. Non-carbon or low-carbon is industry code for nuclear power as well as the pipe dream known as Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS). This bill would expand Indiana's definition of Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) to include nuclear power plants and CCS. This means that we would be forced to pay for the construction of excessively expensive power plants before they produce any electricity, or even if they never produce any electricity. This bill assumes that we have nothing better to do with our money than to finance utility CCS experiments or provide interest-free loans so that utility companies can build unneccessary and enormously expensive power plants (the starting cost of a new nuclear power plant is $10 billion). This bill also allows the utilities to pad their pockets with more trackers.

The Great Indiana Carbon Pipeline
SB 115: Eminent domain for carbon dioxide pipeline
Authors: Beverly Gard
Status: In the Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee
SB 211: Carbon dioxide storage and transportation
Authors: Beverly Gard
Status: In the Senate Energy and Environmental Affairs Committee
Summary: CAC opposes these bills. The utilities know that they are going to begin being held accountable for their carbon dioxide emissions, and they want to make sure that they can pass all of the costs and liability onto us. They are working to set the stage to begin Carbon Capture and Sequestration. The idea is to shoot the carbon dioxide deep into the ground, under our homes, businesses, and farms, and hope that it stays there. They have no idea how this will impact our health or our environment, so SB 211 proclaims that carbon dioxide is safe, forces us to pay for the transportation and “storage” of it, and forces us to be liable in the event of a catastrophe. It also removes regulatory authority from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. SB 115 allows them to claim eminent domain and take our property if it is in the
way of building a pipeline to get the carbon to the place where they want to “store” it. They are also using the "divide and conquer" strategy, by placing SB 115 in the Corrections, Criminal, and Civil Matters Committee, and SB 211 in the Energy and Environmental Affairs Committee. It was the Senate Utilities and Technology Committee that discussed and vetted this issue this summer during the Regulatory Flexibility Committee hearings, but the utilities know that they have a better chance of sneaking these bills through if they present it to legislators that have never dealt with this complicated and controversial issue.

Take Action!
Write, call, or e-mail your legislators, as well as the Chairs of the House and Senate Utility Committees!
• Tell the Senators to vote no on SB 69, SB 115, and SB 211!
• Tell the Representatives to vote no on HB 1081!
• Make sure to remind them that the taxpayer wallet and the ratepayer wallet are the same wallet and that if they don’t want to raise taxes, they should not consider legislation that will raise utility rates for unnecessary investments on behalf of utility profits!
• Let them know that coal and nuclear are NOT renewable energy!
• Tell them that the best investments for energy in Indiana are in energy efficiency,
wind, solar, and geothermal.
These are the technologies that will create jobs, and benefit the health, environment, and pocketbooks of ALL Hoosiers!

To look up and/or e-mail your legislators, visit:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Indiana Take Action Today!!! Eminent Domain Bill
Bill would give CO2 pipeline firms right to take private land
January 25, 2010

A consumer group opposing Senate Bill 115 argues the measure is yet another concession to the developer of a coal-to-methane plant proposed in Rockport, as well as to coal-fired electric utilities that may opt to transport CO2 to underground storage sites.

The measure declares that the transportation of CO2 by pipeline “is declared to be a public use and service, in the public interest, and a benefit to the
welfare of Indiana,” citing its potential to reduce carbon emissions and to promote economic development.

“Granting eminent domain to a private entity is reason enough, we think, to oppose this bill,” said Kerwin Olson, program director for Indianapolis-based Citizens Action Coalition.

The group said the measure is to benefit Indiana Gasification, which in 2006 proposed building a $1.5 billion plant in Spencer County to convert high-sulfur coal to gas. Utilities could use the gas for heating and to generate electricity.

Indiana Gasification, which planned to sell gas to Merrillville-based NIPSCO and Evansville-based Vectren, shelved plans in late-2008 after failing to reach long-term gas supply contracts with utilities, which feared such contracts could impair their long-term credit.

But last March, Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into a law a bill that would allow the Indiana Finance Authority to act as contracting agent between the gasification plant developer and the utilities buying its gas. Daniels has been a supporter of so-called clean-coal technology as an economic development tool and to protect the state’s coal and electric utility industries in the face of punitive carbon-mission regulations contemplated by Congress.

Olson said this marks the fourth year Indiana Gasification has sought various incentives from the state. The principal player in the venture, New York-based Leucadia National Corp., has sought more than $3.6 billion in federal loan guarantees from the Department of Energy for potential gasification plants.

“You’ve got a multi-billion dollar, multi-national corporation that is mandating their agenda through legislation because the business model just doesn’t support it,” Olson said of the proposed plant.

The measure could potentially grant eminent domain powers to numerous firms that plan to ship carbon dioxide trough pipelines.

Duke Energy is studying whether to inject underground the carbon dioxide to be produced at its $2.35 billion Edwardsport electric-generating plant, now under construction. Duke is looking at potential underground storage sites within 50 miles of the plant, but also has looked at piping CO2 to oil wells in southern Illinois as a way to enhance oil extraction.

In addition, Indiana is among Midwest states where Texas-based Denbury Resources is looking to run a 500-mile CO2 pipeline. It could receive carbon from power plants in the state and move it to oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico.

The sponsor of Senate Bill 115, Beverly Gard, R-Greenfield, could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, another measure co-sponsored by Gard is drawing fire from CAC. SB 211 would exclude the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission from ratemaking jurisdiction over private firms that operate carbon-storage facilities or pipelines. Public utilities that hired the private firms could file ask the commission for permission to recover costs from ratepayers.

Moreover, SB 211 declares that carbon dioxide “is not considered a pollutant, a nuisance, a hazardous waste or a deleterious substance.”

CAC argues that the release of CO2 from deep-underground storage sites or from pipelines poses unknown health and environmental risks.