Senate panel considers buffer for ratepayers

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The Indiana Senate's utilities committee is preparing to vote on a proposal that could insulate Indiana ratepayers from any hikes stemming from a deal the state inked with the builders of a coal-gas plant in Rockport.

Consumer advocates and major energy consumers are hoping the measure will increase how often Indiana Gasification LLC would have to dip into an escrow account to pay back ratepayers for any rate hikes caused by the contract.

But executives with Indiana Gasification and its New York-based parent company have said the measure could cause them to cancel the $3-billion project.

The Rockport plant would convert coal to synthetic natural gas and sell it to the state over 30 years. But a court battle and legislative wrangling have placed that deal in question this year.

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