Gov. Mike Pence declined to sign a bill today that eliminates conservation benchmarks for private utility companies as well as a popular home energy audit program.
The bill will still be implemented because of an Indiana law that states if the governor does not sign or veto a bill, it automatically becomes law.
In a statement Pence wrote:
“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.”
Data from the first year of the program shows a savings of $2 for every $1 spent. However, industrial consumers of energy say the plan was becoming too costly.
“Even though a lot of our foundries are smaller operations, they’re very energy intensive,” says Blake Jeffery, the executive director of the Indiana Cast Metals Association which represents a consortium of Indiana foundry owners. ”So our sector probably is in the top five sectors from an energy use perspective in Indiana.”
Jeffery says because the program fees were based on consumption, some of his clients are forced to contribute up to $300,000 per year.
But Citizens Action Coalition Director Kerwin Olsen says that’s the point.
“Energy efficiency, just like coal plants, just like natural gas plants and just like fuel is a resource,” Olsen says. “Everybody pays. Everybody contributes. It’s a benefit to the entire system that all consumers should contribute to.”
While Olsen says the passage of the legislation means the end for Energizing Indiana program, the governor is calling on the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to “develop a new energy efficiency program that will include an opt-out for large electricity consumers.”