INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The former chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory
Commission was indicted Monday on charges alleging that he allowed the
panel’s top lawyer to keep overseeing cases involving Duke Energy even
though he knew the attorney was trying to land a job at Duke.
Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said a grand jury had indicted David
Lott Hardy on three counts of official misconduct.
One of the counts alleges that Hardy communicated with Duke employees
regarding efforts by former IURC attorney Scott Storms to secure a job with
Duke, and that he allowed Storms to continue handling Duke-related matters
before the commission.
The two other counts allege that Hardy failed to disclose conversations he
allegedly had with Duke employees over the rising costs of the $3.3 billion
coal-gasification Duke Energy is building near the southwestern Indiana town
“We look forward to vigorously prosecuting this case to its conclusion,”
Curry said in a prepared statement.
Hardy did not immediately respond to a telephone message Monday at his Fort
Wayne home seeking comment.
Gov. Mitch Daniels fired Hardy in October 2010 after an internal review
showed that Storms, who was the IURC’s top attorney and an administrative
law judge, discussed a position with Duke while presiding over hearings
concerning the utility.
Kerwin Olson, the executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition, said
Hardy’s alleged communications with Duke employees over the Edwardsport
plant’s costs had violated the public’s trust.
He urged the IURC’s current chairman, James Atterholt, to begin
investigating the impact that Hardy’s communications with Duke may have had
on the coal-gasification plant, which has seen its costs soar since it was
“It was without question improper behavior in this case by the chairman of
the commission. And the commission should begin an immediate investigation
into the effect that that communication, that behavior, has had on this
power plant,” Olson said. “We felt from the get-go that Edwardsport is an
illegitimate power plant that should never have been approved.”
The cost estimate of the plant about 60 miles north of Evansville has
climbed from its original estimate of $1.9 billion in 2007 to the current
estimate of $3.3 billion
Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke, which is Indiana’s largest electric utility,
with about 780,000 customers across much of the state, has attributed those
cost increases in part to design changes for the plant, which will be one of
the largest coal-gasification plants in the world.
The 630-megawatt plant, which is more than 90 percent built and is set to
open next year, will convert coal into a synthetic gas that will be burned
in a traditional turbine power plant to produce electricity.
The state inspector general’s office has accused Storms of breaking state
ethics laws by having a financial interest in the outcome of cases involving
Duke Energy while he pursued the job and by not taking proper ethical
precautions. Storms was later fired by Duke.
The case touched off an ethics firestorm that has embroiled Duke for the
Former Duke Energy vice president James Turner resigned in December 2010
after The Indianapolis Star reported he had sent hundreds of emails to
Hardy. Duke last year also fired the president of its Indiana operations,
Mike Reed, for his actions in Duke’s hiring of Storms.