Clean coal apparently isn’t so clean after all — at least at Duke Energy.
Paul Chesser writes for the National Legal and Policy Center:
The former head of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, who was fired in October 2010 by Gov. Mitch Daniels for improper contact with top officials at troubled Duke Energy, has been indicted.
The Indianapolis Star reported that David Hardy was charged on Monday by a grand jury with failure to disclose secret meetings with Duke executives, and for his aid to IURC’s top lawyer in his effort to get a job with Duke. The newspaper, after it obtained emails via open records request, had revealed over several months “that Hardy had been chummy with industry executives and autocratic with his staff. That raised questions about whether Hardy had compromised the agency’s mission of balancing the needs of utilities and ratepayers.”
Indiana laws forbid private communications about active cases between regulators and company representatives. In one February 2010 meeting Hardy met with Duke Energy CEO James Rogers and two other of its officials, in which they informed Hardy about cost overruns at the Edwardsport, Ind. coal gasification plant. According to The Star, Duke officials met privately with IURC officials on at least two separate occasions, but did not disclose those meetings until much later…
Here’s the original Indianapolis Star report:
Just a year ago, David Lott Hardy was one of the most powerful and colorful officials in Indiana, ruling over a vast state agency that oversaw $14 billion a year in utility rates paid by Indiana customers. He drove an expensive BMW sports car and dined in posh Downtown steakhouses.
Now, Hardy is facing felony charges for his conduct in office.
A Marion County grand jury on Monday announced the indictment of Hardy on three counts, saying that he failed to disclose secret meetings with Duke Energy Corp. and that he helped the agency’s top lawyer break ethics laws.
“We look forward to vigorously prosecuting this case to its conclusion,” Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said.
The indictment is the latest bombshell to rock the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, the agency that Hardy led as chairman for five years, until he was fired by Gov. Mitch Daniels in October 2010 as the scandal came to light.
The agency has been under fire for months for its role in overseeing Duke Energy’s controversial power plant in Edwardsport. Under the agency’s watch, the project’s price tag has soared to $3.3 billion from an original estimate of $1.9 billion, which could raise monthly electricity bills for more than 700,000 Indiana customers.