Legislation that made its way to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s desk would halt a state-run energy conservation plan. But a coalition opposing the bill is petitioning Pence for a veto.
Former Gov. Mitch Daniels created the Energizing Indiana plan in 2009 to increase the number of energy conservation programs available to rate payers throughout the state. The program also put in place mandatory energy savings benchmarks for private utility companies.
But in recent years program opponents say it is becoming too expensive for industrial customers as well as individual households.
Sen. Jim Merritt authored the bill. He says he’s spoken with residents in the northeastern part of the state who are paying an extra $15 dollars each month on their utility bill for the program.
“When people don’t like the light bulbs – they don’t want people in their homes - but everybody has to pay for that – it really starts people wondering if it’s actually an effective program or not,” Merritt said.
There are more than 200,000 businesses and homes enrolled in the program statewide.
Sierra Club of Indiana Organizing Representative Matt Skuya says data from the first year of the program shows a savings of two dollars for every dollar spent.
His group, along with a coalition of clergy, environmental and consumer advocate groups delivered more than 4,000 signatures to Pence Tuesday asking the Governor to veto the bill.
Skuya says if utility companies are left to their own devices, energy conservation becomes less of a priority.
“We know without any electricity savings goals, Indiana will basically be setting the clock back to 2008 when the utilities were doing almost nothing to save energy,” Skuya said.
If the governor signs the bill it will halt the Energizing Indiana Plan and remove the authority of the IURC to hold utility companies to conservation benchmarks.