INDIANAPOLIS (WISH/AP) – Gov. Mike Pence will allow Indiana’s fledging statewide energy-efficiency program to end. The governor said Thursday that he’ll allow a bill killing the program to become law without his signature.
Governor Pence said energy efficiency is an important part of Indiana’s energy strategy. However, he expressed disappointment that the General Assembly did not offer an alternative to the previous administration’s energy strategy that was eliminated.
“I could not sign this bill because it does away with a worthwhile energy efficiency program. I could not veto this bill because doing so would increase the cost of utilities for Hoosier ratepayers and make Indiana less competitive by denying relief to large electricity consumers, including our state’s manufacturing base,” Pence said in a statement Thursday.
Indiana’s manufacturing and utility interests supported the bill. The program was financed through a fee that utility customers pay, and they say industrial users saw few benefits. Energizing Indiana provides low-income home weatherizations and other cost-cutting efforts.
Pence said he will ask the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to develop a new program that would include an opt-out for large electricity consumers. He hopes that program would lower electricity usage and support economic growth.
“I have informed leaders of the General Assembly of my actions and my intention to bring energy efficiency legislation during the 2015 legislative session,” Pence said.
Thursday evening, the Sierra Club, a group that works to safeguard health in communities, released this statement on Pence’s decision:
While we are very disappointed with the governor’s decision to allow SEA340 to become law, it is critical that Governor Pence and the Indiana General Assembly now follow through on their promise of creating an improved energy efficiency program for Indiana. Energizing Indiana has saved millions of dollars, created hundreds of jobs, reduced energy costs and made Indiana homes and businesses warmer and more energy efficient. There’s no denying that hundreds of energy efficiency workers will be out of a job next January when utilities cancel or scale back home energy audits, appliance rebates and low-income home weatherization programs. We will now work with our coalition partners to make sure Indiana electric utilities will be required to replace what they’ve destroyed, despite their historic failure to reduce energy demand for the benefit of their customers.