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 …

New Energy Secretary Wants to Waste More Money on EV Loans

Ernest MonizJust when you thought the Loan Program Office in President Obama’s Department of Energy might put its unused electric auto loan money back in the Treasury coffers, the government investor-crats are going to try to find some takers for the dollars of disrepute that have been tainted by the likes of inoperative, nearly bankrupt Fisker Automotive and Vehicle Production Group.

You might remember when we last heard about the condition of this program, it had trouble finding takers for the remaining $16.5 billion or so it had been allocated. According to a March report produced by the Government Accountability Office that reviewed DOE’s loan programs, those who might otherwise be interested in the financial help cited things like bureaucratic red tape, reporting requirements, uncertainty about credit subsidy costs, lengthy review times, and the expenditure of time and resources for an uncertain outcome as obstacles. But what stood out …

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 …

Emails Show White House Exerted Pressure for DOE Loan to Abound Solar

Abound logoThe claim that the many beneficiaries (like Solyndra and Fisker Automotive) of President Obama’s green energy stimulus program received their millions of taxpayer dollars based on measurable metrics rather than political favoritism has always been undermined by the circumstantial evidence, but documents obtained by Complete Colorado indicate the White House applied direct pressure to its own Department of Energy to reward (another) one of its allies.

The company that reaped the benefit was Abound Solar, which filed for bankruptcy in June. In a copy of a June 2010 email, as analysts who evaluated applications were discussing doubts about the Loveland, Colo.-based solar panel manufacturer, DOE Loan Program Executive Director Jonathan Silver informed an agency credit advisor “that the WH (White House) wants to move Abound forward.” Another message from that loan program credit adviser, James McCrea, describes an atmosphere of “transaction pressure under which we are …

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 …

GM-Funded EV Company Gives Up on DOE Loan, Ends Operations

bright automotive

In administrating its stimulus-fed loan and grants programs, the Department of Energy has been accused of incompetence, carelessness, recklessness, and cronyism. Now it can add inconsistency to those distinguishing characteristics.

Last week Bright Automotive, an electric vehicle start-up company that General Motors helped two years ago with an investment of at least $5 million from its venture capital arm, gave up hope on winning a $450 million loan from DOE’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program. As the company announced the withdrawal of its loan application and that it would end operations, CEO Reuben Munger and COO Mike Donoughe sent (and released to the media) a letter to DOE Secretary Steven Chu that sharply criticized the loan programs processes and outlined their frustrations. 

“Bright has not been explicitly rejected by the DOE,” the Bright executives wrote, “rather, we have been forced to say ‘uncle….’”

“Last week we received the fourth ‘near …

Taxpayer Cash for Ener1 Helped a Thrice-Failed Foreign EV Company

Think City carLast week yet another treasured Obama administration “Green” energy company – electric vehicle battery manufacturer Ener1went bankrupt, after having been granted $118 million in stimulus funds in August 2009. But the gift did more than just sustain it and subsidiary EnerDel; the cash enabled the company to bail out what would be its top customer, a Norwegian electric car company that had already been drained of cash on at least three previous occasions.

Oslo-based Think Global itself filed for bankruptcy again last June.

Think, whose primary model is a two-seater called the Think City, was to produce its glorified electric scooters at a revamped plant in Elkhart, Ind. – a plan that was also endorsed and supported by popular (with national Republicans) Gov. Mitch Daniels, who is still dreamed about by some conservatives as a worthy presidential candidate. Think’s economic development goals were closely linked to …

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 …

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