Big businesses fight over Indiana energy program

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Two giant corporations that sell products that save electricity have weighed in to try to rescue an Indiana program designed to promote energy efficiency, pitting them against other big businesses who want Gov. Mike Pence to kill it.

Honeywell and Ingersoll Rand, which both have operations in Indiana, warned in a joint statement this week that it would "set the state back years," if Pence signs legislation passed by the Republican-dominated legislature to halt the program called Energizing Indiana at year's end.

Ingersoll Rand sells energy-saving heating and air conditioning systems while Honeywell makes products that help industrial motors power up and down more efficiently. Both benefit from rebates under the Indiana program.

Those rebates and other incentives are financed through fees utility customers pay. The Indiana Manufacturers Association, which represents some 1,400 companies, including big steelmakers such as ArcelorMittal and Nucor Steel, lobbied to kill the program. The industry group said the program has increased its members' electricity bills by 1 to 3 percent.

The fight between the different businesses has landed in the lap of Pence, a Republican champion of business, who must decide by March 27 whether to sign or veto the legislation, or it will automatically become law.

Pence said last Friday after lawmakers ended their session that he'll "very carefully consider the importance of energy efficiency programs and conservation" that he called "an important aspect" of Indiana's energy strategy.

"But we're also going to take a careful look at the overall energy costs in the state of Indiana and then we'll try and make the best decision we can based on balancing those interests," he said.

Although the program's website says it's saved enough electricity in the past two years to power nearly 79,000 Indiana homes, opponents argued during the legislative session that it has proven too costly, and that industrial users were getting few benefits under the program.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, would prohibit the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission from extending or beginning new contracts with the program after this year. It also would also prevent the commission from requiring utilities to meet specific energy efficiency goals.

Merritt said the program has cost Indiana ratepayers $500 million since it was started and would cost another $1.9 billion by 2019.

On Tuesday, members of the Sierra Club, the Citizens Action Coalition, and Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light delivered about 4,100 signatures, including some signed on online petitions, to Pence's office asking the governor to save the program.

Jodi Perras, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign in Indiana, said companies such as Honeywell and Ingersoll Rand have mobilized because the late-session changes to the bill that would effectively end the program they have benefited from.

"This happened so quickly, the business community didn't have a chance to testify because this came out of the blue really quickly, so now they're trying to get involved," she said.

Honeywell spokesman Aaron Parker said the company, which has about 1,100 employees at six Indiana locations, offers rebates through Energizing Indiana for its variable frequency drives for commercial and industrial customers. Those save energy by allowing motors to ramp up and down, instead of operating in a simple on-or-off mode, he said.

Rebates for the company's energy-efficiency commercial lighting systems are also offered through Indiana's program.

Ingersoll Rand spokeswoman Paige Muhlenkamp said the company sells numerous energy-efficient products, including the Trane brand of heating and air conditioning systems for residential and commercial users. Rebates for those products are also offered through Energizing Indiana, she said.


  • Merritt's Argument Seems Weak
    I'm still trying to figure out where Merritt got his $500 million and $1.9 billion estimated costs to ratepayers. His argument might be more persuasive if he could explain how these costs where determined. In addition, I thought the Public Utilities Commission determined rates and I doubt that the Energize Indiana Program would have caused the Commission to allow higher rates. Merritt seems to be just protecting his large campaign donors.
  • End The Subsidies
    If these products are so beneficial to the end users in terms of energy cost savings or lower operational costs, then they'll still buy them without the rebates. If however the ONLY way they were cost beneficial was because taxpayers and/or consumers were paying more to cover them, then they are a bad deal, and the manufacturers need to figure out how to produce them for less. If I were to be cynical, I'd suggest that the "rebate" does nothing more than pad the profit on these things.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these people....do you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

  2. i too think this is a great idea. I think the vision and need is there as well. But also agree with Wendy that there may be better location in our city to fulfill this vision and help grow the sports of hockey and figure skating in Indy. Also to help further develop other parts of the city that seem often forgotten. Any of the other 6 townships out side of the three northernmost could benefit greatly from a facility and a vision like this. For a vision that sounds philanthropic, the location is appears more about the money. Would really like to see it elsewhere, but still wish the development the best of luck, as we can always use more ice in the city. As for the Ice growth when they return, if schedules can be coordinated with the Fuel, what could be better than to have high level hockey available to go see every weekend of the season? Good luck with the development and the return of the Ice.

  3. How many parking spaces do they have at Ironworks? Will residents have reserved spaces or will they have to troll for a space among the people that are there at Ruth Chris & Sangiovese?

  4. You do not get speeding ticket first time you speed and this is not first time Mr.Page has speed. One act should not define a man and this one act won't. He got off with a slap on the wrist. I agree with judge no person was injured by his actions. The state was robbed of money by paying too much rent for a building and that money could have been used for social services. The Page family maybe "generous" with their money but for most part all of it is dirty money that he obtained for sources that are not on the upright. Page is the kind of lawyer that gives lawyers a bad name. He paid off this judge like he has many other tine and walked away. Does he still have his license. I believe so. Hire him to get you confiscated drug money back. He will. It will cost you.

  5. I remain amazed at the level of expertise of the average Internet Television Executive. Obviously they have all the answers and know the business inside and out.