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Legislators Criticize New Energy Efficiency Plan

Claudio Schwarz

 Indiana is on the brink of enacting a new energy efficiency plan to replace one repealed last year.

The House has approved a bill requiring electric companies to submit plans every three years for how they‘ll encourage more efficient energy consumption.

Utilities and Energy Chairman Eric Koch (R-Bedford) says the state had some form of efficiency requirement from 2004 until this year, when Governor Mitch Daniels‘ "Energize Indiana" program was formally abolished.

The new bill, supported by the Pence administration, restores that requirement while giving utilities flexibility in how they meet their goals. Legislators predict rates would increase, but most customers‘ bills would go down because they‘re using less power. The Senate must approve a change made in the House to send the bill to Governor Pence.

Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) says he could support the bill if there were a limit on how long utilities can continue to be compensated for lost revenue.

“They’re going to come in eventually on a base rate case, they’re going to get all those fixed costs covered but they’re still going to get that energy efficiency lost recovery, year after year after year,” Pierce says.

Environmental groups have criticized the bill, especially the lack of a time limit on a provision allowing utilities to raise rates to make up for revenue they lose to efficiency measures.

Three Democrats joined all Republicans except Martin Carbaugh (R-Ft. Wayne) to approve the bill 72-26.

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