Groups Petition Pence To Veto Bill Killing Energy Program

Legislation that made its way to Governor Pence’s desk would halt a state-run energy conservation program.

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Photo: Energizing Indiana

Part of the Energizing Indiana program allows consumers to schedule a home energy audit though the state website.

The Daniels Administration 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, R-Indianapolis, authored the bill.He says he’s spoken with residents in the northeastern part of the state who are paying an extra $15 each month on their utility bill for the program.

“People don’t like the light bulbs – they don’t want people in their homes – but everybody has to pay for that,” Merritt says. “It really starts people wondering if it’s actually an effective program or not.”

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 Governor Pence this week asking him 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 says.

If the governor signs the bill it will halt the Energizing Indiana Plan and remove the authority of the Indiana University Regulatory Commission to hold utility companies to  conservation benchmarks.

Jimmy Jenkins

Jimmy Jenkins is a multimedia journalist for WFIU and WTIU news. A native of Terre Haute, he is a masters student at the Indiana University School of Journalism and is proud to be a part of the public broadcasting stations he listened to and watched since he was a child. Follow him on Twitter @newsjunkyjimmy.

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