INDIANAPOLIS (WLFI) – It’s a program aimed at saving Hoosiers money by helping them become more energy-efficient. Yet, Republican State Senator Jim Merritt said it could be costing Hoosiers more than they think.
“Since 2009, the Energizing Indiana program has cost rate payers $500 million and will cost as much as $1.9 billion more by 2019,” said Merritt.
Indiana residents are charged about $1.50 per month to fund Energizing Indiana. That money is used to provide no-cost energy efficiency audits for homes, businesses and schools.
Merritt authored a bill that would phase out the Energizing Indiana program by the end of the year. Monday, that bill passed the General Assembly by a vote of 37 to 8.
“I thought that energy efficiency programs are a benefit to a lot of different people and walks of life,” said local leader of the Hoosier Sierra Club Gerry VanHorn.
VanHorn is against the demise of Energizing Indiana. He said without the program, he fears the future of Indiana won’t look too bright.
“My fear would be that it could be some time before we initiate any sort of other program,” said VanHorn. “So, we’d lose the ability and the opportunities available to the consumers of our state.”
According to the Energizing Indiana web site, the program has saved enough energy to power 78,000 homes since 2012. Merritt said the savings must be compared with the costs.
“We need to be sure this expensive program, funded by rate payers, is a worthwhile and valuable investment,” said Merritt. “If energy efficiency policies aren’t leading to cost savings, they aren’t doing their job.”
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission is set to analyze those costs and benefits. Merritt said those findings should be available by mid-August.
The bill will now go before Gov. Mike Pence for approval. If signed, Energizing Indiana would be phased out by December 31.