Last week, the Indiana State Senate took a major step toward ending its progressive Energizing Indiana program, by voting 37-8 to cut off its funding. The House passed the same bill a couple of weeks before, so the legislation now heads to the desk of Governor Mike Pence (R) for either approval or veto. Though the bill is widely popular and supported among the general population and environmental advocates, those voting against the Energizing Indiana program see it as a waste of taxpayer money and the state government overstepping its jurisdiction.
The initiative was started two years ago by former Governor Mitch Daniels (R). The program charges residential homeowners a very small fee on their utility payments – the average being $2 per month – and uses the money to make necessary energy efficient upgrades to homes and commercial spaces that need it. The money is used to conduct energy audits, install weatherization equipment and provide rebates for energy saving household appliances.
Though the original version of the Senate bill simply allowed businesses that used 1 megawatt or more of electricity to opt out of the program, it was amended by the House to include more extreme provisions that will eventually shut it down. The legislation that was passed prohibits the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission from extending or entering into new contracts with the Energizing Indiana program after December 31 of this year. The future of the law – and of the initiative itself – now rests in Governor Pence's hands, and experts are unsure of what he will decide to do.
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