Former IPL audit: ‘failure to see deeply’ potentially explosive issues

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Mar. 20, 2015) -- As Indianapolis Power and Light crews continue to work around the clock to fix damage caused by an underground explosion, FOX 59 looked deeper into the company's history as of late.

Regulators announced Friday that they will be investigating IPL for its repeated safety issues and underground explosions.

Two explosions this week, sending flames shooting into the street and two manhole covers feet into the air, are not the first time the company has found itself in hot water, either.

In 2011, regulators called for an independent audit of the company following three incidents in 2010 and four in 2011.

FOX 59 even found that 911 calls back then mirror those of this week.

"We just heard a loud boom that shook the building and you can see black smoke and stuff coming up out of the steam vent," said a caller on Thursday.

"The ground just blew up. I see a whole bunch of smoke coming up from beneath the ground. We just heard something boom," said a caller back in 2011.


Auditors from Atlanta said that overall, the system under Indianapolis' downtown streets is good. However, it pointed to issues with IPL's monitoring process and larger attention to detail.

Among the findings, auditors mentioned a "'looking, but not seeing' attitude, ... a failure to see deeply and ... a failure to recognize the conditions that would lead to future failure."

In other words, they noted that IPL seemed to be reactive instead of proactive.

The company vowed to fix that, filing new plans as recently as last month with regulators.

"Is our system better? Absolutely over the last four or five years," IPL's Joe Bentley said.

However, regulators are now questioning whether changes have been made and said they will take a closer look into how IPL is managing its resources and handling potential issues.