INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana House amended a bill targeting the state's energy-efficiency program Tuesday with a provision that would effectively end the program by the end of this year.
The House voted 66-30 to amend the bill on second reading with language that prohibits the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission from extending or entering into contracts for Energizing Indiana's statewide energy efficiency program after Dec. 31, 2014.
Energizing Indiana, which is financed through a fee ratepayers pay on their monthly electricity bills, offers home assessments, low-income home weatherizations and other cost-cutting efforts the program's website says has saved enough energy in the past two years to power nearly 78,000 Indiana homes.
Rep. Heath VanNatter, R-Kokomo, said he co-sponsored the amendment to end the program because as the bill advanced, testimony proved to him that it's "very costly" and doesn't provide enough benefits for Indiana's electric ratepayers.
The original bill called for allowing industries that use one megawatt or more of electricity to pull out of the program. State Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, has said he sponsored the measure because only about 17 percent of Indiana's industries that have paid into the program have actually taken part in any of its energy-efficiency offerings.
VanNatter said the program's original cost was about $2 billion, but it would have cost hundreds of millions of more dollars more in the years ahead.
"The whole point of this was to avoid building another power plant because they're costly to build, but we could build a new power plant with what we've spent on this program," he said. "My opinion was that it wasn't paying for itself and I just feel like we need to take a pause."
Energizing Indiana began under Gov. Mitch Daniels through a December 2009 administrative order put into motion by the IURC in conjunction with the state's electric utilities and other entities.
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