Energy efficiency bill moves forward

(WISH Photo, file)
(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Indiana Senate cast a vote that upset environmentalists on Monday. Now, the bill goes to the governor.

Monday afternoon, the Senate approved a proposal to phase-out an energy conservation program at the end of the year.

The sponsor, State Senator Jim Merritt, said he wants to make sure the program is a wise use of money. The Republican from Indianapolis said the program has cost ratepayers $500 million, so far. He predicted it could cost as much as $2 billion by 2019 when the program is scheduled to end.

Energizing Indiana, as the program is known, began in 2009 by order of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. The conservation measures have been funded by a $1.50 fee on your utility bill.

Industrial energy users raised questions about the costs the program imposes on them. Merritt said the easiest changes have already been made. So, enacting new conservation ideas will be more expensive.

“If energy efficiency policies aren’t leading to cost savings, they aren’t doing their job,” Merritt said.

Jodi Perras of the Sierra Club said, if Governor Pence signs this bill, the change will cost hundreds of jobs and raise electricity rates in Indiana.

In a statement released after the vote she said: “In just its first year, Energizing Indiana saved enough energy to power 64,000 homes for a year and directly supported 400 Hoosier jobs.” 

The Sierra Club wants Pence to veto the bill.

Merritt said a report, due in August, will reveal the costs versus the benefits of Energizing Indiana.

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