Public Responds To Proposed Vectren Gas Plant

Jul 12, 2018

Vectren ratepayers who plan to address the IURC take an oath at the beginning of the hearing.
Credit Isaiah Seibert / WNIN

Update, 12:41 p.m. Friday: A Vectren spokesperson told WNIN that the company always considers the effect of its choices on customers' bills. Natalie Hedde said Vectren researched the costs of a porfolio with only renewable energy and found that it would cost $1 billion more than its current proposal. She said the company's job is to provide power, and it cannot do so reliably without fossil fuels.

Emotions ran high for local Vectren customers at Wednesday’s Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) hearing.

An unidentified man was escorted out of the auditorium after he rushed the podium.

"I don’t think it’s particulary productive to rush the stage, " Wendy Bredhold said. She's a senior campaign representative with the Sierra Club. "But I think that when you hear from people and people speaking on behalf of those who are struggling…these are things that are fraught with emotion."

Bredhold called it a "ratepayer rebellion," and she said more and more people have attended these utility hearings.

Vectren wants to build a $781 million natural gas plant in Posey County. It would replace four coal units. A fifth coal unit would be updated for an additional $95 million. The company would recoup the costs through higher rates.

Many people at the hearing spoke against the plans, but some did support the company, including the president of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana. The orgnization receives some funding from Vectren.

No decision was made at the hearing. The Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), which represents the public in cases before the IURC, will take comments until Aug. 3. The IURC will come to a decision in the following months.

This story has been updated with comment from Vectren.