INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
The leader of a consumer watchdog group said Tuesday that Indiana lawmakers
put the state at a disadvantage when they passed a bill killing an
energy-efficiency program that could have helped the state meet the new
federal carbon-emission goal by 2030.
a bill in March that will halt the state’s fledging Energizing Indiana
program on Dec. 31, ending its energy-saving efforts such as low-income home
Coalition executive director Kerwin Olson said lawmakers were
“short-sighted” in light of Monday’s announcement by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, which said coal-dependent Indiana has three years to come
up with a plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent over the next
16 years as part of a sweeping national push to combat global warming.
Energy-efficiency programs are among the tools states can use to reach their
“We kind of shot
ourselves in the foot here in Indiana by eliminating these programs. It was
a short-sighted decision and more so now that we’ve seen these carbon rules
that would allow efficiency programs to be used as a tool to meet these
goals,” Olson said.
Although Gov. Mike
Pence said in March he was disappointed lawmakers killed the program without
offering a replacement, he nonetheless allowed the law to take effect. The
Republican governor said he would propose an alternative program for
lawmakers to consider next year.
largest electric utilities have all filed proposals outlining
energy-efficiency programs they hope to implement after the Energizing
Indiana program ends. The plans by Duke Energy, Vectren, Indiana Michigan
Power, Northern Indiana Public Service Co. and Indianapolis Power & Light
need the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission’s approval.
Danielle McGrath said the commission will consider those plans as it drafts
recommendations that Pence had requested for a successor to the Energizing
Indiana program. The panel is also working to prepare an assessment for
lawmakers by Aug. 15 on Indiana’s efficiency programs - findings that could
factor in legislation next session.
The IURC is also
accepting public input until Monday on Indiana’s future energy-efficiency
“So there are kind
of three different tracks going on, but all under that same umbrella,”
which began in 2012, has saved enough energy to power nearly 93,000 Indiana
homes, according to its website. Its goal was achieving a 2 percent annual
savings in total electric sales by 2019.
including businesses and environmental groups, said it has employed hundreds
of workers and saved money for consumers who receive free in-home energy
audits. But Indiana’s manufacturing and utility interests argued the
program, financed through a fee on monthly electricity bills, had proven too
costly and industrial users saw few benefits.
Duke Energy is
Indiana’s largest electric utility, with about 800,000 customers in 69 of
Indiana’s 92 counties. Spokesman Lew Middleton said Duke Energy’s
energy-efficiency proposal would restore programs it offered to its
customers from 1991 until the Energizing Indiana program began.
mandated targets what we’re doing is simply saying to our customers, ‘We’ve
got this portfolio of energy-efficiency programs we can offer and we
encourage you to take advantage of those - you can save energy and save
money,” he said.
Olson, of the
Citizens Action Coalition, said the utilities’ plans are “not bad” but all
but one of them would cover only a single year. He said the consumer
watchdog group would prefer utilities offer 3-year programs.