The Indiana House of Representatives voted 69-26 to end a state program that requires all electricity customers to pay a monthly fee to promote energy-efficiency efforts.
The original Senate bill was designed to allow industries that use 1 megawatt or more of electricity per month to opt out of the Energizing Indiana program, which they claimed was proving a financial burden and not offering useful benefits.
The Energizing Indiana Program launched two years ago by former governor Mitch Daniels costs the average household about $2/month and the money is used to conduct energy audits, weatherization programs and rebates on energy-saving appliances. The program’s website says it’s saved enough energy in the past two years to power nearly 78,000 homes in Indiana.
The House, however, amended this Senate bill to add a measure that effectively ends the program by prohibiting the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission from extending or entering into new contracts for the program after Dec. 31, 2014.
That amendment was introduced by Rep. Heath VanNatter, (R-Kokomo) and would also prevent Indiana from requiring utilities to meet energy efficiency goals.
Rep. Matt Pierce, (D-Bloomington) was one of the most outspoken critics of the bill, warning that in the longterm, the end of the program would increase electricity bills for customers as new power plants would need to be built to meet rising demand.
“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.”
Duke Energy’s new $3.5 billion power plant in Edwardsport costs ratepayers about $6 a month
“Today’s decision by the Indiana House of Representatives will roll back a proven winner, put energy efficiency workers out of their jobs, and threaten to raise electricity bills for all Hoosiers,” said Jodi Perras, Indiana representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in a statement.
The amended bill, Senate Bill 340, now returns to the Senate for consideration.
Repeated calls to Gov. Mike Pence’s office for comment on the bill were not returned.