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Costly Plant In Indiana Drags On Duke Earnings

Duke Energy's quarterly earnings - announced today - were down 30 percent compared to last year because of massive cost overruns on a coal-fired plant it's building in Indiana. The Edwardsport Coal Gasification plant was supposed to cost $2 billion when originally approved in 2007. Duke's latest revision to that price tag is $3 billion and investors are nervous it could go even higher. When asked on a call with investors this morning if this latest revision in the Edwardsport estimate would be last, Duke CEO Jim Rogers said "Yes, that's a very good way to think about it." The company subtracted about $220 million of the extra costs from its third quarter earnings, for a net profit of $472 million. Duke is asking Indiana utility regulators for permission to have ratepayers cover much of the extra cost. Those hearings are currently underway. Duke is also requesting a 15 percent overall rate hike in North Carolina. Attorney General Roy Cooper today joined the state's top utility consumer advocate in opposing the increase.