Citizens Action Coalition, with the aid and support of Earthjustice, has asked the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to reject CenterPoint Energy’s recent request to charge electric customers at least $23 a month to pay for two new fossil gas-fired power plants and a new gas pipeline, according to a CAC press release.
The new power plants would produce a combined 460 megawatts of electricity, and the pipeline would be built under the Ohio River from Kentucky to southwest Indiana.
Anna Sommer, principal of Energy Futures Group, and Josh Keeling, director of the Cadeo Group, provided expert testimony for CAC.
Sommer, who was critical of the utilities planning process, said CenterPoint exaggerated the price of renewables and battery storage and that the company based the need for fossil fuels on a questionable sales forecast.
According to the press release, CenterPoint has also refused stakeholders and IURC the chance to review this forecast.
“The company has not provided sufficient justification or analysis for its choice to build these gas plants, especially given the lack of support for its outdated load forecast and the flaws in its IRP modeling,” Sommer said.
Keeling recommended the IURC deny CenterPoint’s request to construct the two gas plants and asked that the company be required to undertake a strict analysis of the alternatives.
Sommer also questioned the size of the pipeline, which would cost customers $27.3 million each year to deliver gas.
“What is clear, is that CenterPoint is acquiring gas transmission capacity that greatly exceeds that which is needed to supply these units,” she said.
Kerwin Olson, executive director of CAC, said CenterPoint’s plan is in the best interest of its shareholders and not its ratepayers.
Olson also filed testimony that shows how CenterPoint customers pay the highest electric bills in the state.
CenterPoint will file rebuttal testimony Dec. 20 with evidentiary hearings before the IURC beginning the last week of January 2022.
A decision from the IURC is expected in mid-2022.