IBJNews

Indiana House OKs bill to end efficiency program

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indiana's 2-year-old statewide energy efficiency program that helps homeowners and businesses cut their energy use would come to end under a bill approved Wednesday by the Indiana House despite a lawmaker's prediction that killing the program would eventually push electricity rates higher.

The House voted 69-26 to approve the bill, which now returns to the Senate for consideration.

The bill originally would have allowed industries that use 1 megawatt or more of electricity to pull out of the Energizing Indiana program, which is financed through a fee utility customers pay on their monthly electricity bills. But the House amended the legislation to add a measure that effectively would kill the program by prohibiting the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission from extending or entering into new contracts for the program after Dec. 31, 2014.

The amended bill also would prevent Indiana from requiring utilities to meet energy efficiency goals.

The bill's author, Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, said he's going to take the next few days to review the House's changes before determining whether to ask the Senate to approve it or send the bill to a conference committee to restore its original wording.

Merritt said that in authoring the bill he had studied the program's energy-saving benefits for industries but had not assessed its impact on residential and commercial power users. He said he'll research whether those two categories have benefited from Energizing Indiana's home assessments, low-income home weatherizations and other cost-cutting efforts.

"I'm curious when people say that this is a program that's not working altogether," Merritt said. "I'm going to do my due diligence before I say yea or nay. I'm going to study it and understand exactly what the commercial and residential programs are, and then make a decision."

The program's website says it's saved enough energy in the past two years to power nearly 78,000 Indiana homes.

Energizing Indiana began under Gov. Mitch Daniels through a December 2009 administrative order put into motion by the IURC in conjunction with the state's electric utilities and other entities. The program's goal is achieving a 2-percent annual savings in total electric sales by 2019.

State Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, urged the House to reject the bill Wednesday, warning that killing the program would increase the need for new Indiana power plants, the costs of which would eventually push electricity rates higher.

Pierce said the bill's supporters have expressed outrage over the program's more than $1 billion cost that's gone into efforts to help cut power usage and the need for new plants. But he said he hasn't heard them complain about the cost of Duke Energy's $3.2 billion Edwardsport coal-gasification plant that's pushed up rates for Duke's Indiana ratepayers.

"Let's quit catering to the electric utility industry and let's start standing up for the ratepayers for a change," Pierce said. "A vote for this bill is a vote to raise the rates of your ratepayers."

Jodi Perras, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign in Indiana, said that in its first year Energizing Indiana has provided energy-cutting services to about 200,000 Indiana households and businesses. She said an independent auditor found Energizing Indiana is saving 25 times more electricity than the state's utilities were previously doing with their own energy efficiency programs.

"What incentive do the utilities have to run these programs when they're in the business of selling energy? Talk about the fox guarding the henhouse," Perras said. "The benefit of having a contractor do this statewide is that it's statewide marketing, a statewide program and their job is to save energy."

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Merritt's Folly
    Senator Merritt's bill has backfired on him and now he is scrambling to minimize the negative impacts of the House's action. Unless he has changed jobs, I believe Merritt is (or was) an officer for a large power company and was, perhaps, trying to serve his employer's/industiry's interests. While his bill might have made some sense, the goofballs in the house that want to eliminate all government programs at any cost pounced on the bill as a way to forward their agenda. Once again, it is all about catering to large corporations at the expense of Hoosier taxpayers.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
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
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

  2. Shouldn't this be a museum

  3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

  4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

  5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.

ADVERTISEMENT