INDIANAPOLIS (AP) ó A judge has refused to dismiss an official misconduct
charge against Indianaís former top utility regulator.
David Lott Hardyís attorney told a judge Monday that he would file a
pretrial appeal, Marion County prosecutorís office spokeswoman Brienne
The former chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission was
indicted in December on three counts of official misconduct. The indictment
alleged that Hardy allowed the panelís top lawyer to keep overseeing cases
involving Duke Energy even though he knew the attorney was trying to land a
job at the utility company.
Hardy had filed a motion in Marion Superior Court in April to dismiss an
amended indictment against him, claiming he did nothing criminal. He claimed
the charges are too broad and seek to impose criminal liability for
violating administrative rules.
One of the counts alleges that Hardy communicated with Duke Energy 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 the company is building near the southwestern Indiana town
Gov. Mitch Daniels fired Hardy in October 2010 after an internal review
showed that Storms, who was the IURCís top attorney and an administrative
law judge, discussed a position with Duke while presiding over hearings
concerning the utility.
The utility also fired Storms, and ethical problems related to the project
cost two high-ranking Duke executives their jobs.
The cost estimate of the plant, located 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 Energy, which is Indianaís largest electric
utility with about 780,000 customers, 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.
plant will convert coal into a synthetic gas that will be burned in a
traditional turbine power plant to produce electricity.