Kerwin Olson 1:51 p.m. EST January 28, 2015
Energy independence? Affordable energy? All of the above? The 2015 Indiana General Assembly stands poised to define these catch phrases as two proposals are making their way through the legislative process. Hoosiers should pay attention.
While claiming to believe in “all of the above,” our elected officials voted last year to end the Energizing Indiana program, which was creating jobs and saving ratepayers money. As a result, Gov. Mike Pence promised to deliver a strong efficiency proposal in 2015.
He delivered a bill, but it’s anything but strong. SB412, authored by Sen. Jim Merritt, does little to help consumers save energy and everything to pad the pockets of the monopoly utilities. The bill would allow the utilities to establish their own energy efficiency goals and over-collect hundreds of millions of ratepayer dollars.
SB412 will lead to efficiency programs with negligible results and will make efficiency far too expensive, effectively pricing it out of the Indiana marketplace.
HB1320, authored by Rep. Eric Koch, would allow the monopolies to write their own rules regarding your ability to generate your own power, on your own property, and to connect your rooftop solar or backyard wind turbine to the grid. Additionally, utilities would be allowed to set the prices for the power you send to the grid. The utility will then sell that same power which you generated to your neighbors at the retail prices they set. The monopolies want to rig the game and tax the sun and the wind. [emphasis added]
HB1320 is being masqueraded by the utilities as policy designed to protect consumers and drive investments in distributed energy, like rooftop solar. Likewise, SB412 is being sold under the guise of creating cost-effective efficiency programs. In reality, these bills will eliminate your freedom to make your own energy choices and will allow the utilities to turn ratepayer-funded efficiency programs into huge profit centers.
The monopolies are trying to kill the only competition they have. Energy efficiency and customer-owned distributed energy, especially rooftop solar, create competition by allowing us to use less of their product and hand over less of our money to them. Rooftop solar and efficiency are threatening their revenues and profits, and bringing into question their monopoly business model. [emphasis added]
The utilities are working hard to ensure that “all of the above” does not include energy efficiency and rooftop solar. And rather than help our state work toward energy independence, they’re doing all they can to keep us dependent on them.
Achieving energy independence, increasing competition and protecting consumers from monopoly abuse is something that most of us agree on. Let’s create policies that will make our businesses, farms, homes and schools as efficient as possible.
Let’s craft policies that capture the potential of the sun and harness the power of the wind to generate the energy we need, right here in Indiana. [emphasis added] These policies would put money in the pockets of Hoosiers by reducing monthly bills for all consumers and creating new jobs that can’t be outsourced. That’s independence. Moreover, that’s freedom.
Kerwin Olson is executive director of Citizens Action Coalition.
IndianaDG Editor’s Note: A hearing in the House Utilities Committee on HB 1320 is expected next Wednesday afternoon, February 4th , however, details cannot be confirmed at this time.
Also please visit http://dontkillsolar.com/tusk/where-we-are/indiana/