A company planning to construct a biomass energy plant in Clay County is petitioning the state to decline jurisdiction over its project.
In April, Bioenergy Power, LLC, presented a verified petition to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) asking the commission to decline jurisdiction over the construction, ownership and operation of its proposed electric generating facility, which will be located on County Road 500 West, just south of State Road 42.
"Normally, a utility has to receive approval for all aspects of the project," Robert C. Reiling Jr., attorney with Reiling, Teder & Schrier, LLC, Lafayette, and president of Bioenergy Power, told The Brazil Times Wednesday. "However, Indiana has some exemptions for biomass and alternative energy utilities."
On Tuesday, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) sent out a press release inviting public comments as it reviews Bioenergy's proposal.
"This is all part of the normal procedure when petitioning the IURC to decline jurisdiction," Reiling said.
OUCC Director of External Affairs Anthony Swinger told The Brazil Times it is a standard practice to make the public aware of the review, and regardless of the number of comments received, the legal and technical work goes on.
"We work similar to a small specialty law firm in which we have experts in various fields," Swinger said. "We represent consumer interest in all cases, and through our review, we file recommendations to the IURC, which makes the final determiniation."
Bioenergy is seeking IURC approval to build and operate a 26-megawatt electric generating facility which would use wood waste as its fuel.
According to Reiling's testimony to the IURC, Koetter and Smith, Borden, Ind., would be the supplier of the wood waste to Bioenergy, which has entered into a 20-year Purchased Power Agreement (PPA) with Hoosier Energy Electric Cooperative, Inc., AKA Hoosier Energy.
Under the terms of the PPA, Bioenergy is obligated to sell, and Hoosier Energy is obligated to purchase, all of the electric output from the Clay County facility, and Hoosier Energy has the option to purchase the facility at any time during the duration of the PPA. Also, per the terms of the PPA, Bioenergy does not have the need for a rate structure as it will not make any sales to retail customers in Indiana
Included in the exhibits of the testimony were a Title V Air Permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's Office of Air Quality, which was issued March 16, and a letter from Clay County Commissioner Paul Sinders expressing support for Bioenergy's petition to the IURC.
"We are very excited that this project is moving toward the groundbreaking stage," Sinders said. "This is a huge positive for the creation of jobs and economic development, and this company is a great addition for the county."
Reiling told The Brazil Times the plant -- which is owned by a group of Indiana investors, including BioEnergy Development Development Company, Fishers -- is slated for contract letting in September with construction to begin in October or November.
"We are anticipating construction of the plant to take 12-15 months to complete," he said. "We also intend to hire as many local contractors and employees as possible."
Bioenergy obtained approval on 10-year property tax abatements for both personal property and real estate from the Clay County Council in October 2009 and, according to Reiling's testimony, the company plans to provide 20 permanent jobs with an annual payroll of approximately $1.1 million once the plant is constructed and operational.
According to the OUCC release, consumers may submit comments via mail, fax or the Internet, and all submissions must be received by July 13.
Comments, which should include the consumer's name, mailing address and a reference to "IURC Cause No. 43882" may be sent to the following locations:
* Mail -- Consumer Services Staff, Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South, Indianapolis, Ind. 46204,
* Fax -- 317-232-5923,
* E-mail -- ussinfo@oucc.IN.gov, or
* OUCC Website -- www.in.gov/OUCC.
The OUCC anticipates completing its review and filing testimony with the IURC on July 16, with an IURC technical evidentiary hearing currently scheduled for Aug. 11, in Indianapolis.
"Our main goal is to make the public aware that these type of reviews are happening, and encouraged them to make comments," Swinger said.
For more information on this case, including links to Bioenergy's testimony and exhibits, visit www.in.gov/oucc/2623.htm.