Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

March 28, 2014

Pence allows energy-efficiency repeal to become law

State may need 2 power plants in next decade as a result

A controversial bill to repeal several energy-efficiency programs became law Thursday without the governor’s signature.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence said late Thursday he’s “disappointed” the Indiana General Assembly killed the state’s fledgling energy efficiency program without creating any alternative, but declined to veto the measure.

That means programs to weatherize homes, and rebates for businesses that install energy-efficient equipment, will cease at year’s end.

The bill survived a push organized by several business interests aligned with energy efficiency. Leaders at the businesses signed a letter this week, asking Pence to veto the bill.

General Electric, Ingersoll Rand, Johnson Controls, Siemens, Honeywell and United Technologies were among the businesses signing the letter, according to a story Wednesday in The Times of Northwest Indiana. The signatories said the legislation jeopardizes 10,000 manufacturing and efficiency jobs in Indiana.

By the end of the business day Thursday, Pence had signed every bill sent to his desk by the Legislature, with the exception of the energy efficiency repeal, raising hopes by utility consumer advocates he might veto the bill.

But at 8:39 p.m. Pence’s office sent out a press release, indicating he would allow the repeal to take place without his signature.

“I could not sign this bill because it does away with a worthwhile energy efficiency program. I could not veto this bill because doing so would increase the cost of utilities for Hoosier ratepayers and make Indiana less competitive by denying relief to large electricity consumers, including our state’s manufacturing base,” Pence said in the statement.

State Rep. Heath VanNatter, R-Kokomo, authored the repeal, saying he believed there were numerous problems with the program and didn’t believe the program is as effective as advocates claim.

He also criticized social service agencies for pushing the program, saying they receive funding for every individual they refer to the state’s home weatherization program.

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