Earlier this month, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a law that will help the state increase its energy efficiency, along with reducing oversight by the state of any major utilities’ energy efficiency programs.
Under the new law, utility companies can now develop their own energy efficiency programs, which are then approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
However, those programs often cost customers money, and although they should save money as they decrease their power consumption, critics are calling the new law “worse than doing nothing” when it comes to savings.
Rebecca Stanfield, the Midwest deputy director for policy from the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that Indiana’s plan was lacking in “two really critical elements.” The state should have adopted solid goals that the utility companies must accomplish through the law; these companies should also come up with programs that are more cost effective than building another plant would be.
The new law has already taken effect, and environmental activists are also arguing against it, saying that the state won’t be able to meet federal requirements to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, either.
Pence says that the law should help consumers spend less on their energy bills. “Well, I just think energy efficiency lowers the cost of energy for every Hoosier,” he said to the press.
But many companies will likely raise their rates in order to make up for the decreases in energy consumption by Indiana residents. Pence, however, disagrees and said that the state should “take advantage of all the resources that we have.”
Officials in the Pence administration also said that rates will go up no matter what, and consumers shouldn’t worry because increases must be approved through the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
The state may need to hold those companies more accountable, though, warn critics. They point to states like Arizona, Kansas and Utah, which have stricter standards that their utilities providers must meet.
There are plenty of ways that homeowners in Indiana and throughout the rest of the United States can already save money, according to experts. Replacing residential windows and doors with newer energy efficient fixtures, for instance, can help curb a home’s heat loss — 15 – 22% of which occurs through windows alone.
Jodi Perras, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Indiana, recommends energy audits in a home to find out which light bulbs, shower heads, and water pipes may need replacing. Larger parts of a home, such as the roof, the windows or the HVAC system, can also be evaluated by some professionals.
Some companies also offer rebates when homeowners upgrade their appliances or furnaces to more high-e models. Nationwide, programs like Energy Star and others help more people afford more environmentally friendly products for their homes.
In Indiana, the Energizing Indiana program had helped residential consumers receive these benefits, but it was eliminated last year because commercial and industrial companies said the program was too costly for them to maintain.