Former IURC Chair Indicted in Edwardsport Ethics Scandal

A former chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) who was embroiled in an ethics scandal over helping a former agency counsel apply for a job at Duke Energy while participating in proceedings involving the utility’s costly Edwardsport integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) plant was indicted on Monday by a grand jury in Marion County.

According to Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry, the grand jury indicted David Lott Hardy on three counts. Hardy faced one count for knowingly aiding and abetting Scott Storms, the former IURC counsel, by communicating with Duke Energy employees about his prospective employment while allowing Storms to continue participating in the Edwardsport proceedings. The other two counts involved Hardy’s failure to disclose ex-parte communications in March 2008 and February 2010 that occurred with an employee of Duke Energy regarding the revised cost estimates of the IGCC project.

The Indiana Star broke the story last year after scrutiny of e-mails obtained under open-records law. The newspaper recently reported that the controversial IGCC plant’s price tag has soared to $3.3 billion from an original estimate of $1.9 billion.

The Star also reported that Storms joined Duke in September 2010. The utility fired Storms in November after the scandal surfaced. Earlier this year the Indiana State Ethics Commission ruled that Storms committed three violations of state ethics law.

“Duke Energy continues to believe that the informational project updates shared with the commission were appropriate and permitted under the law and relevant regulations,” Duke said in a written statement. “The company is fully cooperating with the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.”

Sources: POWERnews, Marion County Prosecutor, Indiana Star

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