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Indiana Could Gut Energy Efficiency Programs

January 30, 2014 By William Opalka

demandresponseA bill before the Indiana Senate threatens the state’s energy efficiency goals because it would allow large industrial users of electricity to opt out of the demand side management (DSM) program.

Senate Bill 340 was written by Republican state Senator James Merritt and recently cleared the Senate Utilities Committee.

DSM relies on both large and small users of electricity, but Senate Bill 340 would allow the large industrial users to opt out. The programs have been in place for a couple of years, and Jodi Perras with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign told Public News Service that consumers already have saved enough to power 64,000 homes for a year.

“Ohio and Illinois are seeing great gains and energy-efficiency programs are keeping their electric rates lower, (but) meanwhile Indiana is stuck in the old mindset of, ‘Let’s let the utilities build as many power plants as they want and we’ll all be fine,'” Perras said.

Some industrial users have complained that they don’t get as much benefit from the program as they pay into it, but Perras said there are other options to opting out, including a self-directed energy-efficiency program that would hold them accountable.

Energy efficiency depresses rising costs by reducing electricity demand and lowering potential rate increases.

A recent forecast from Purdue University found electricity use in the state will rise less than 1 percent annually through 2031, almost half the previous estimate, primarily because of increases in efficiency.

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