Energy Efficiency Bill Awaits Gov's Signature

Apr 8, 2015

Credit Richard Rutter / https://www.flickr.com/photos/clagnut/

An energy efficiency plan requested by Governor Pence is on its way to his desk.

The Senate has given final approval to a bill requiring electric utilities to submit conservation plans to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission every three years.

Senate Utilities Chairman Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) says by going through the IURC instead of an outside agency, the plan will be cheaper than the Energize Indiana plan implemented by former Governor Mitch Daniels – a program that was repealed by the legislature last year.

The bill doesn't direct utilities to achieve efficiencies in any specific way. Merritt says they need flexibility, both because different utilities have different needs and because federal regulations are likely to alter the energy landscape.

“Every utility in the state is different. Some have nuclear power, some depend on coal, some are going to natural gas, so IURC is a place where they understand each utility and its difference and its way of life and business practices,” Merritt says.

Environmental groups charge the bill is too weak, and object to a provision allowing power companies to raise rates to recover the lost revenue from electricity they no longer need to generate.

Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis) says the bill is too weak.

“We have gone from a very strong program under the Daniels administration in 2009 to, basically, a redefined, inept, inefficient, not meaningful program,” Breaux says.

The 38-10 vote was nearly a party-line vote, with Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage) joining most Republicans in supporting the bill and Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville) joining the rest of the Democrats in opposing it.