Hardy, former chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, was accused by the grand jury of knowingly aiding and abetting efforts by Scott Storms, the agency’s former general counsel and chief administrative law judge, to pursue a job with Duke while presiding over cases related to Edwardsport at the IURC. The 602-megawatt plant, one of the largest IGCC projects ever built in the United States, has suffered from cost-overruns that have driven up its estimated price tag by about $1 billion since it was approved by the commission in November 2007. The plant is more than 80% completed and targeted for commercial operation in October 2012.

Storms left the commission and was hired by Duke as its associate general counsel in the fall of 2010. He subsequently was fired by Duke as part of an internal inquiry launched after the release of confidential e-mails that showed Hardy and top Duke executives enjoyed a close relationship and had discussed Storm’s prospective employment with the company.

Hardy was fired in October 2010 by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a Republican who had appointed Hardy to the commission several years ago. Daniels, a two-term governor who leaves office at the end of next year, in early 2011 considered seeking his party’s presidential nomination but decided not to run.

Hardy also was accused by the grand jury of failing to disclose ex parte communications that occurred on March 17, 2008, and February 24, 2010, with a Duke Energy employee regarding revised cost estimates for Edwardsport.

If convicted, Hardy faces up to three years in prison on each count plus a $10,000 fine.