Leigh DeNoon Rushville Republican
---- — A consumer-rights group, the Citizens Action Coalition, is asking in a letter to the state Attorney General to investigate whether over 50 communities buying electricity from the Indiana Municipal Power Agency are getting the low-cost electricity promised by IMPA’s investment in the Prairie State Energy Campus in southern Illinois.
According to Lindsay Shipps, a community organizer with the CAC, the state is being addressed because IMPA has a 12 percent stake in the plant.
“We’re asking the Attorney General to investigate any potential misrepresentation that occurred in pitching communities this plant and investing in a contract to purchase power from IMPA with this plant until 2042,” she explained.
Peabody Energy, the developer of Prairie State, has disclosed that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating issues related to the development of the plant.
The CAC is also urging leaders in IMPA communities to determine if they’re paying more for electricity than the price on the wholesale market.
Shipps stated that earlier this year, citing high costs, the Missouri town of Marceline announced it wanted out of its contract with Prairie State.
“Other communities, other states are noticing that this is increasing their costs,” Shipps said. “Why aren’t we doing the same?”
According to Tom Sanzillo, director of finance for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, they have documents showing that the promised Prairie State price for electricity in 2007, when the plant was being developed, was $43 to $45 a megawatt hour. Sanzillo declared that last year’s actual costs from two states were higher than what had been pitched.
“The Ohio numbers that we have - and there we get billings, right? - from the community, that was at $57.25 a megawatt hour,” he specified. “And, then in Missouri, it was $59.24 a megawatt hour; that’s about 35 percent above what they had promised them.”
Not all communities with contracts with Prairie State are dissatisfied. The Danville, Virginia, utilities director is quoted as saying their contract can still pay off and be a good investment, if the economy turns around and energy costs are driven up.
More information is at IEEFA.org.