Ind. court rules Duke must cover ice storm costs
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday that state regulators acted appropriately when they rejected Duke Energy Corp.'s bid to pass more than $11 million in repair costs incurred during a 2009 ice storm onto its customers.
The court found the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission did not have to explain the reasoning behind its October 2011 decision reversing the regulatory panel's initial approval of Duke Energy's request.
Duke Energy attorney Jon Laramore had told the court during Dec. 10 oral arguments that the panel's reversal of its initial July 2010 decision was an "arbitrary and capricious action." He also said the IURC didn't explain how it reached two different conclusions based on the same evidence.
But in Friday's ruling, the three-judge court said the IURC's decision was similar to a trial court rejecting a request to throw out a lawsuit early only to make an unexplained about-face close to trial in dismissing the suit.
"In both instances, the evidence is essentially the same, and the 'judge' is not required to give an explanation as to why he changed his mind between one decision and another," the court's ruling said.
Duke Energy spokeswoman Angeline Protogere said in a statement the Charlotte, N.C.-based company respects the legal and regulatory process but disagrees with the ruling. She said the utility is reviewing it and had not decided if it would appeal.
IURC spokeswoman Danielle McGrath said the "IURC majority is pleased with the outcome, which affirms new findings were made in light of the second hearing."
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, which serves as Indiana's advocate for utility ratepayers, had appealed the IURC's initial decision, arguing that Duke Energy's request to pass on $11.6 million to customers was excessive.
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