Photo: LHOON (Flickr)
Environmental advocates say legislation that could soon be on its way to the governor’s desk will kill Indiana’s energy efficiency program
Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, says the legislation he authored originally allowed large industrial customers to opt out of the Energizing Indiana program, a joint effort between the state, utility companies and consumer organizations to provide energy efficiency opportunities.
An addition in the House would prevent the state from holding utilities to energy savings goals and eliminate the Energizing Indiana program entirely.
But Merritt says he thinks of it as just a pause in the program.
“I don’t believe it’s harmful to take a moment, take a breath, study what is right and what is wrong with this program and then march forward,” he says. “I want to emphasize that the utilities will continue to have efficiency programs.”
Sam Sirkin, the director of JACO Environmental, an appliance recycling program, says there will be no incentive for utilities to continue efficiency programs.
“It could, in comparison to other Midwest states and states around the country, put Indiana at the back of the class in terms of a 21st century energy policy,” Sirkin says.
Governor Mike Pence says he hasn’t formed an opinion on the legislation and looks forward to studying the issue.
“I appreciate very much my predecessor’s commitment to encouraging greater efficiency and conservation,” he says. “I also take note of the fact that one of the challenges Indiana faces today is that, particularly for our industrial users, our energy costs are rising.”