August 13, 2018- by John Blair, valley watch.net editor
Today, for perhaps the first time ever, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor came out against a proposal by Vectren Corporation that if approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission would ultimately increase electric rates for southwest Indiana residential and commercial electric customers bills by nearly $1 billion.
While Valley Watch has fought for years for reduced usage of coal as an energy source, and was pleased when Vectren announced their intention to retire three coal units in the 2016 Integrated Resource Plan, we have had serious reservations about the sheer size and cost of their proposal build a giant natural gas facility at the AB Brown site in southeast Posey County at a cost to could cause significant economic harm to most of the residential and commercial customers.
Today’s announcement by the OUCC sill surely set in motion a clash between Vectren, Valley Watch Citizen’s Action Coalition and other intervenors as to the future of that plan.
OUCC Counselor, Bill Fine said in their announcement, “Any electric utility that seeks to overhaul its generation fleet today must evaluate all possible options. It must also carefully examine the ways its options would impact its customers in terms of both money and electric reliability. In this case Vectren has not evaluated all options or shown that that it is proceeding on the most prudent manner.”
Earlier today, in a release sent out by the consumer watchdog, Citizens Action Coalition, Valley Watch president, John Blair asserted, “It is time for the IURC to finally step up, say no to Vectren, and deny this nearly one billion-dollar ratepayer rip-off. Vectren residential customers already pay the highest rates in Indiana. Ratepayers shouldn’t be forced to subsidize alleged Vectren growth in the industrial sector. Why should residential customers subsidize industrial customers at all?”
Valley Watch, whose purpose is to “protect the public health and environment of the lower Ohio River Valley, is committed to fair, just rates for clean, safe energy. Currently, southwest Indiana and western Kentucky is home to nearly 15,000 megawatts off coal fired electric generating capacity that for decades has impacted the health of citizens of the region in very negative ways. All but around 4,000 of those megawatts are sent out of the region and that 4,000 serves to run the enormous electric needs of three of the USA’s remaining eight aluminum smelters.
Air pollution, water pollution and land pollution from these giant facilities permeate our environment and will have negative impacts for the region for years after they cease operation.