You might hear about water infrastructure and rural broadband in Indiana’s upcoming legislative session. But if Wednesday's legislative conference in Indianapolis is any indication, you might not see more bills pushing energy efficiency.
State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) says his 2015 law — which allowed utilities to develop their own energy efficiency programs with state approval — is working.
“As long as we continue to see better results from the plans that we have now, you probably won’t see legislation,” he says.
Merritt says utilities saved 8,000 more megawatt hours in 2017 than 2016. He also pointed to Indiana University's campus in Bloomington, where switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs in collaboration with Duke Energy will save the university an estimated $250,000 a year.
Merritt also says the state needs to fully examine the results of the 2015 law over time.
"You’ve got to give it two or three years, four years to look at if it’s actually working or not," he says. "And to scrap it right now would be nonsense."
Merritt’s law replaced Energizing Indiana, which he says was driving up energy bills for Hoosiers.
But environmentalists say the state isn’t doing enough for energy efficiency. A study released this summer showed that, by repealing Energizing Indiana, the state has missed out on about $95 million in savings and thousands of jobs.
Indiana also tends to fall near the bottom of the rankings in the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy’s scorecard. Merritt says those rankings didn’t take the state’s industrial energy savings into account.
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.