Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

March 23, 2014

So much to talk about

With the short session of the 118th Indiana General Assembly now in the books, it was interesting to hear all of the spin this week, as three Kokomo legislators came back to town to speak at a chamber of commerce luncheon.

The most interesting take was probably from State Rep. Heath VanNatter, who undoubtedly had the biggest impact of the Kokomo delegation.

It’s still uncertain whether or not Gov. Mike Pence will veto Senate Bill 340, which undoes the state’s two-year-old demand-side management program to increase energy efficiency.

The crux of the program is spending money on weatherizing homes, changing out old lightbulbs, etc., instead of spending it on a new power plant. VanNatter, who doesn’t believe demand-side management is worth the cost, authored an amendment which ends the program after Dec. 31.

At the lunch, VanNatter praised Duke Energy’s $3.5 billion Edwardsport plant, which still isn’t fully functional, despite $1.6 billion in cost overruns, as “awesome technology.”

This was the same day the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a settlement which leaves ratepayers responsible for about $700 million of the cost overruns, and a 16 percent rate hike because of Edwardsport.

The irony was that to VanNatter’s right, State Sen. Jim Buck was speaking about how rising utility costs are the biggest threat facing Indiana’s economic competitiveness.

Some of Indiana’s largest industries joined efforts to prevent Duke from passing any of the Edwardsport overruns onto ratepayers.

VanNatter was also timely in discussing another contentious issue, that of a proposed moratorium on nursing home construction.

State Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero, wasn’t at Wednesday’s lunch, but he’s been the talk of the Statehouse this past week, after it emerged he’d spoken against the moratorium in a recent meeting with legislators.

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