An energy-focused state legislative study committee ended its first and last meeting Thursday with no bill recommendations, but its leader indicated there’s more to come from a separate, related group.
The Interim Study Committee on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications heard a series of reports on various energy topics before voting to adopt a report devoid of recommendations for the legislative session beginning in January. The group heard reports on broadband grants; the energy, communications, water and wastewater industries; utility consumer protection; and clean energy.
Indiana faces several challenges in ensuring sufficient, reliable and affordable energy, speakers said, as the state’s utilities transition to newer renewable options and grapple with tumultuous economic conditions.
Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Chair Jim Huston warned that environment-friendlier pushes could endanger energy affordability.
“Indiana’s historically strong competitive price position has been challenged as environmental compliance regulations have been implemented and continually tightened over the past decade,” Huston said.
Indiana’s coal usage has dropped from 73% of its total fuel mix to 51% since 2012, according to the commission’s 2022 report. Natural gas and wind have increased to fill the gap, while nuclear has also ticked up.
“When comparing this generation’s portfolio from a decade ago to the current mix, we see a stark difference that can be attributed to environmental mandates,” Huston said.
Action is likely to come from the 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force, indicated committee and task force Chair Rep. Edmond Soliday, R-Valparaiso. The task force was first authorized in 2019’s House Enrolled Act 1278.
“We have sort of adapted in the task force a mantra that we’ll encourage renewables but we will not compromise reliability and affordability,” Soliday said.