Indiana Supreme Court to consider Duke Energy rate increase

The Indiana Supreme Court is delving into a dispute over Duke Energy’s request to raise rates to recover funds spent on coal ash remediation.

The high court last week unanimously granted transfer to Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, et al. v. Duke Energy Indiana, LLC, et al., 21S-EX-432.

In May, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approving Duke Energy’s petition to increase its retail rates and charges for electric utility service, allowing the utility to recover money spent on disposing of coal ash. The Office of Utility Consumer Counselor and a group of Duke customers had opposed the petition, arguing rates should actually be lowered for retail customers.

Also at issue was whether the IURC erred in accepting a study submitted by Duke allocating costs between retail and wholesale electricity customers, and whether the IURC erred in granting Duke’s request to recover operating and maintenance costs at its Edwardsport plant. But the Court of Appeals affirmed in full for Duke.

“The IURC, as the finder of fact, weighed the parties’ evidence and credited Duke’s analysis of its production capacity … . We will not second-guess the finder of fact,” Senior Judge John Baker wrote.

Oral arguments had not been scheduled at IL deadline.

The justices granted transfer to one other case last week, issuing an opinion Tuesday John B. Larkin v. State of Indiana, 21S-CR-427. On a 4-1 split, the court reinstated a voluntary manslaughter conviction against John Larkin for the 2012 death of his wife. Justice Steven David dissented.

Finally, the Supreme Court denied transfer to 12 cases last week, splitting on the denial of two: Indiana Board of Pharmacy v. Paul J. Elmer, 20A-PL-2200, and William Pumphrey, III v. Melody Jones, 21A-CT-47.

In Elmer, the Court of Appeals ruled in June that the Indiana Board of Pharmacy does not have authority to revoke a lapsed license. Chief Justice Loretta Rush and Justice Christopher Goff voted to grant transfer, while Justice David did not participate in the decision.

In Pumphrey, the COA split in allowing a long-delayed counterclaim to proceed.  Rush voted to grant transfer.

The full list of transfer decisions for the week ending Sept. 17 is available online. 

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