CenterPoint customers show outrage at public hearing over proposed rate increase

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Dozens of people filed into the Locust Room at the Old National Events Plaza to express their concerns over CenterPoint’s request to build new facilities. The energy company wants to replace the coal powered AB Brown facility in Posey County with natural gas-fueled facilities and add more storage locations, totaling $323 million, angering many customers.

Many speakers said they were concerned over bringing in another fossil fuel plant and at such a high cost. One woman at the meeting said, “For heaven’s sakes, it’s a climate crisis. The number one target to address is methane. Gas plants, pipelines, that’s methane. The day for gas plants has passed. How can center point seriously consider building new ones now?”

If approved, the cost of the new facilities could add an average of $23 to each household’s monthly bill.

Another speaker said “what do my friends and my family get in return for all this cancer-causing exhaust? Increased prices.”

“We’re number one out of the state of Indiana for highest utilities, we’re the seventh out of the United States. How could they keep putting more on us to have to pay for their debt and everything?” said Brian Distler, of Evansville.

Many people say what the Tri-State needs is a more environmentally friendly option.

Wendy Bredhold from the Sierra Club said, “what we want to see is a renewable portfolio. Renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. And it’s what needed to avert war of climate crisis and more local pollution.”

Edie Hardcastle was the first speaker at the meeting. She also said she thinks there are other ways for CenterPoint to go about the project. “Solar for one, wind energy both are comparable in cost to any gas and actually lower than some gas options.”

“At the very least, can’t we do the things that don’t cost us extra money? According to CenterPoint’s own information, we could do everything with renewables and storage. 80% fewer emissions, the exact same costs, but honestly I think it’s probably less because since they did their original analysis, the average price of gas has doubled. So going forward, the gas plant is just going to cost us more and more and more,” said Dr. Mary Lyn Stoll.

Representatives from CenterPoint say the company’s long term generation transition plan seeks to change the way the company generates power in a cost effective way.

Anthony Swinger of the OUCC said, “if you couldn’t be here tonight but you want to comment, we invite your comments in writing through the 12th of November.”

The OUCC and IURC did not make any final decisions. They said they will take all public comments into consideration before they approve or deny CenterPoint’s request. Swinger said the decision should be made by sometime in 2022.

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