Utility consumers and Indiana’s public finance arm will likely have a voice on a task force charged with developing the state’s energy policy. That’s according to an amended bill, HB 1220, that would extend the 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force for another two years.
Activists were concerned that no one on this new task force would represent utility consumers — many of whom could see changes in their energy bills as the state transitions to more renewable sources like wind and solar. The amendment would require someone from the Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor to be a member as well as either the public finance director of the Indiana Finance Authority or someone designated by the director.
But the amendment still doesn’t address a concern raised by Democratic lawmakers who want to see a more equal number of Democrats and Republicans on the task force. Right now, Republicans are allowed to appoint twice as many members as Democrats.
Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington) also expressed concerns that the makeup task force was not very diverse. Part of what the energy task force plans to study is the effect of the transition to renewable energy on lower-income communities and communities of color. Yoder said someone who represents those communities should be a part of the task force.
Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) said the task force would take testimony from groups like the NAACP, but that making the task force more diverse would be difficult considering the makeup of the legislature – which according to the National Conference of State Legislatures is 89 percent White.
The bill passed committee and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.