Environmental groups say they’re concerned the legislature will create a watered-down statewide energy efficiency program to replace the program eliminated earlier this year.
Lawmakers voted last session to eliminate the program known as Energizing Indiana amid concerns about its rising costs. Governor Mike Pence pledged to bring legislators a new energy efficiency proposal in the upcoming session, one crafted by the Utility Regulatory Commission.
Hoosier Environmental Council executive director Jesse Kharbanda says the proposed plan would not require utility companies to meet energy savings goals and leaves out large industrial customers entirely. He says the proposal could hurt the state not just environmentally but economically.
“I can tell you from talking to companies off the record that some companies are not interested in Indiana, will not invest in Indiana from an efficiency perspective because there is no longer a mandatory, comprehensive efficiency program.”
But Indianapolis Republican Jim Merritt, who’s helping lead the Senate on the issue, says even without an efficiency program in place for next year, utility companies created their own.
“They take this very seriously and thus having something where it’s mandatory just doesn’t make sense,” Merritt said. “It’s voluntary but they believe that it’s a part of their role in the state of Indiana.”
The legislative session begins in January.