Indiana governor allows Indiana energy efficiency to end

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Mike Pence will allow Indiana’s
fledging statewide energy-efficiency program to end, saying Thursday
night he will propose an alternative program for lawmakers to consider
next year.
The Republican governor said he would allow a bill
ending the Energizing Indiana program to become law without his
signature because he wasn’t entirely satisfied with the current program,
but also disappointed that lawmakers killed it without offering a
replacement.
"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," Pence said in a written statement.
Pence
said he was directing the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to
immediately begin developing recommendations for a new energy-efficiency
program that would include an opt-out for large electricity consumers.
He said he would bring such legislation to the General Assembly in 2015.
Environmentalists,
consumer groups and companies that make energy-saving products had
urged Pence to veto the measure, saying it would end the program just as
it was seeing successes in helping homeowners and businesses cut their
electricity use.
Kerwin Olson, executive director of the consumer
watchdog Citizens Action Coalition, issued a statement saying Pence’s
lack of action "will lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in
unnecessary rate increases in the coming years" because of growing
demand for electricity.
Jodi Perras, the Indiana representative
for Sierra Club’ Beyond Coal Campaign, said the decision "makes Indiana
the first state in the nation to roll back its energy savings goals" and
that the program had created jobs, reduced energy costs and made homes
and businesses more energy efficient."
But Indiana’s manufacturing
and utility interests had argued that the program, financed through a
fee that utility customers pay on their monthly electricity bills, had
proven too costly and industrial users were seeing few benefits.
Energizing
Indiana provides home energy assessments, low-income home
weatherizations and other cost-cutting efforts, including rebates on
electricity saving products. The program, which began in January 2012,
has saved enough energy in the past two years to power nearly 79,000
Indiana homes, according to Energizing Indiana’s website.
The bill prohibits state regulators from extending or signing new contracts for the program after Dec.
31, 2014.
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