Indiana Supreme Court Upholds IURC/ProLiance
Vectren Corp. announced that the Indiana Supreme Court has
overturned an appeals court verdict and affirmed the Sept. 12, 1997
order of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), that the
gas supply agreements between utilities Indiana Gas and Citizens
Gas and Coke and their joint venture marketing affiliate, ProLiance
Energy, are in the public interest.
The IURC's decision stated that the agreements between ProLiance
and the utilities were reasonable, and that customers were
experiencing significant gas cost savings under them.
"One of the principal reasons for the creation of ProLiance was
to obtain gas cost savings for customers that were otherwise
unobtainable. Since its inception, ProLiance has saved the
customers of Citizens Gas and Indiana Gas over $60 million in gas
costs. We are very pleased with the court's decision because it
will preserve these benefits for our customers. Having ended the
uncertainty created by this legal challenge to ProLiance's
formation, it will be better able to grow and pursue further
business opportunities," stated Niel C. Ellerbrook, CEO of Vectren,
the parent company of Indiana Gas.
ProLiance Energy, an alliance between affiliates of Citizens Gas
& Coke Utility and Indiana Gas Company, was formed as a gas
marketer to residential, commercial and industrial customers in
1996. Despite protests from industrial customers and a citizens
group, the IURC found in 1997 that ProLiance's agreements were in
the public interest and in accordance with Indiana regulatory law.
The industrials protested ProLiance's control over 37 Bcf of the
utilities' working storage capacity and 600,000 Dth/d of their firm
transportation capacity. The Citizens Action Coalition claimed the
unregulated affiliate was using the same offices and personnel as
the regulated utilities. The Coalition and an Indiana appeals court
found fault with ProLiance's sale of gas to the utilities at index
prices. The appeals court, however, did not address the question of
economic value and overall public interest.
"Now that the Supreme Court has rendered its decision, we will
endeavor to discuss any remaining issues with the Office of Utility
Consumer Counselor and other interested parties with the hope of
reaching an agreement that can be presented to the IURC for review
and approval," said Ellerbrook.
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