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Big businesses fight over Indiana energy program

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 20, 2014 at 6:52 pm •  Published: March 20, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two giant corporations which sell products that save electricity have weighed in to try to rescue an Indiana program designed to promote energy efficiency, pitting them against other big businesses who want Gov. Mike Pence to kill it.

Honeywell and Ingersoll Rand, which both have operations in Indiana, warned in a joint statement this week that it would "set the state back years," if Pence signs legislation passed by the Republican-dominated legislature to halt the program called Energizing Indiana at year's end.

Ingersoll Rand sells energy-saving heating and air conditioning systems while Honeywell makes products that help industrial motors power up and down more efficiently. Both benefit from rebates under the Indiana program.

Those rebates and other incentives are financed through fees utility customers pay. The Indiana Manufacturers Association, which represents some 1,400 companies, including big steelmakers such as ArcelorMittal and Nucor Steel, lobbied to kill the program. The industry group said the program has increased its members' electricity bills by 1 to 3 percent.

The fight between the different businesses has landed in the lap of Pence, a Republican champion of business, who must decide by March 27 whether to sign or veto the legislation, or it will automatically become law.

Pence said last Friday after lawmakers ended their session that he'll "very carefully consider the importance of energy efficiency programs and conservation" that he called "an important aspect" of Indiana's energy strategy.

"But we're also going to take a careful look at the overall energy costs in the state of Indiana and then we'll try and make the best decision we can based on balancing those interests," he said.

Although the program's website says it's saved enough electricity in the past two years to power nearly 79,000 Indiana homes, opponents argued during the legislative session that it has proven too costly and that industrial users were getting few benefits under the program.

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