Two Years and Duke Energy’s ‘Clean Coal’ Plant Still Sputtering

Duke EdwardsportThe monument to former Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers’s boondogglery – a “clean coal and carbon capture” power plant in Edwardsport, Ind. – has become the rate-busting gift that keeps on giving.

Over the weekend the Indianapolis Star reported that the facility that Duke Energy’s Indiana president called “state-of-the-art” continues to have premature breakdown and decay problems. Repair costs are likely to be passed on to customers, who have already seen their electric bills increase by up to 16 percent because of construction estimate overruns.

“Cracking welds. Eroding pipes. Frozen transmitters. Slag building up. Coal slurry spilling on floors,” the Star reported, citing disclosures to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. “And all that was just in December.”

The plant has been operating for two years and was promoted as one of the “world’s cleanest” with the ability to deliver dependable, low-cost electricity. According to Power

Duke Energy’s Clean Coal Plant Coughed, Wheezed in Feb.

Duke EdwardsportAfter the global warming-battling Edwardsport coal gasification power plant used more power than it generated during the September-to-November timeframe, earlier this month information filed with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission showed the Duke Energy facility operated at less than 1 percent of capacity in February.

As Duke wants to recover $1.5 million in costs related to the plant, the state office that advocates for its customers – the Office of the Utility Consumer Counselor – wants IURC to more closely scrutinize why Edwardsport’s operation has been such a miserable failure. The much-delayed and fought-over plant had a $1.4 billion cost overrun and as a result is adding an average 16 percent increase to Hoosier State customers’ electric bills.

“The ratepayers of Duke Energy should not be mandated to bear the risks and most of the costs of this boondoggle,” said Kerwin Olson, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition, to …

Duke Energy’s Clean Coal Plant Uses More Energy Than It Produces

Duke EdwardsportNLPC has detailed extensively the wastefulness and folly of spending billions of taxpayer and consumer dollars to subsidize wind energy, solar energy and electric vehicles, all in the name of fighting climate change.

But the complicated, uneconomical boondoggle that Duke Energy built in Edwardsport, Ind. so as to burn coal gas rather than coal – and thus produce less carbon dioxide than a traditional coal plant – may be the dumbest idea to fight imaginary global warming to date. If you swallow the alarmists’ premise and “solutions,” the plant so far is a joke, as recent evidence shows it is using more energy than it produces.

Edwardsport was supposed to cost $1.9 billion but that estimate was about $1.6 billion short. The project has hacked and wheezed since 2006 under evidence of cronyism, corruption, conflicts of interest, cost overruns, delays, waste, and mismanagement, but at least it became …

Duke Energy’s ‘Clean Coal’ Power Plant Off to Bad Start

Duke EdwardsportDuke Energy’s “green” initiative to gasify coal for allegedly “cleaner” burning at its Edwardsport, Ind. power plant has already been vilified for cronyism, corruption, conflicts of interest, cost overruns, delays, waste, and mismanagement, but at least it became operational in June.

For six days.

The so-called “clean coal” project that was intended to have a carbon dioxide capture-and-storage component suffered breakdowns that left it inoperative on June 13, almost a week after Duke’s formal announcement that Edwardsport was on line, and only a day after the nation’s largest utility showed media members around the plant. The Indianapolis Star broke the news on Friday.

Eyebrows furrowed and heads shook not simply over the unexpected early stoppage, but given the questionable behavior surrounding the plant by previous CEO James Rogers and other Duke executives, the timing of the announcement followed by the quick shutdown only raised more …

Will Departing Duke CEO Rogers Officially Join the Obama Team?

Jim Rogers and windmill photoNow that he’s been forced out as chairman and CEO of Duke Energy, James Rogers is apparently looking for something else to do, and may now be more receptive to the idea of becoming President Obama’s next Secretary of Energy.

The new speculation, primarily from the Charlotte Business Journal, which is based in Duke’s home city, arose following an interview that Rogers did with Bloomberg News while at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Whereas Rogers used to routinely dismiss suggestions that he might be up for a cabinet post, when asked this time by Bloomberg reporter Tom Keene what he would bring to the job if the president asked him to serve, he was unhesitant.

“What I would bring is someone that’s been in the industry a long time and understands the importance of getting the balance right between cheap, affordable energy and meeting …

Former Temp CEO Rebuts Allegations of Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers

Bill Johnson photoAs the North Carolina Utilities Commission tries to make sense of the farcical events that surround its approval of the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy into the largest public electricity company in the nation, the deeper they dig, the dumber Duke looks.

Yesterday the 6-member panel (one seat is unfilled due to political wrangling) heard from former Progress CEO Bill Johnson (pictured). Throughout the 18-month merger process the two companies proclaimed to anyone who cared – including federal regulators, utilities commissions in at least six states, and Wall Street – that Johnson would carry that role over to the combined company, while former Duke CEO James Rogers would elevate to chairman.

Instead, according to Johnson’s testimony, within two hours after directors from both companies offered “handshakes, pats on the back, congratulations all around,” he was jettisoned and replaced by Rogers. The hearings were covered by most of …

Duke Power Plant Boondoggle to Cost Customers Plenty

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A $3.3 billion coal gasification and carbon dioxide capture power plant owned by Duke Energy, built in order to pacify concerns over the fake global warming scare, will increase rates for its Indiana customers by 14.5 percent the next two years.

The Indianapolis Star reported last week that ratepayers will cover nearly $2.6 billion of the plant’s costs, as the result of a deal between the utility, its industrial customers, and Indiana’s government advocate for electricity consumers. Duke’s shareholders will pay for the remainder of the facility, built in Edwardsport, Ind. Between the Charlotte-based utility and its main contractors on the plant – General Electric and Bechtel – construction costs soared from an estimated $1.985 billion in 2006 to $3.3 billion. Carbon dioxide capture and storage, like much renewable energy, is a technology that has not proven viable on a scale that would meet the electricity demands of …

Al Gore & Duke Energy: Marriage Made in Regulation Hell

Rogers photoThe North Carolina fuel cell project in which former Vice President Al Gore has a conflict of interest as a director of Apple, Inc., illustrates how crony socialism and state mandates to utilize so-called “Green” energy converge to benefit wealthy corporatists at the expense of regular citizens.

Yesterday NLPC reported that Apple’s plans to build a costly fuel cell electricity generation facility adjacent to its new data center in Maiden, N.C., was a conflict for Gore, because plans show Apple has enlisted Bloom Energy to build the project.

In addition to his Apple role, Gore is also an investor in Bloom through his role as a senior partner with Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers. According to a report in The News & Observer of Raleigh last week, Bloom could reap as much as $30 million from the deal – about $6.7 million per megawatt – based upon calculations …

Indiana Official Indicted After Improper Duke Energy Interactions

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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 …

Duke Energy Caves In to Pressure Groups’ Demands

Rogers photoIn yet another ploy to overcome opposition to their merger, Duke Energy and Progress Energy agreed with environmental groups last week to a few million more dollars in payoffs for “clean” energy schemes, and to implement energy efficiency programs that would reduce customers’ electricity use by seven percent of retail sales by 2018.

The deal has been planned for months, and when approved by state and federal regulators, will create the largest investor-owned electric utility in the nation. Combined the companies serve residents and businesses in Florida, the Carolinas, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, Coastal Conservation League, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Southern Environmental Law Center all intervened in the hearings before the North Carolina and South Carolina utility regulatory commissions. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also must approve the deal.

NLPC reported in September that the environmental pressure groups – whose calling cards are …