INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Two giant corporations which sell products that save electricity have
weighed in to try to rescue an Indiana program designed to promote energy
efficiency, pitting them against other big businesses who want Gov. Mike
Pence to kill it.
Ingersoll Rand, which both have operations in Indiana, warned in a joint
statement this week that it would “set the state back years,” if Pence signs
legislation passed by the Republican-dominated legislature to halt the
program called Energizing Indiana at year’s end.
sells energy-saving heating and air conditioning systems while Honeywell
makes products that help industrial motors power up and down more
efficiently. Both benefit from rebates under the Indiana program.
Those rebates and
other incentives are financed through fees utility customers pay. The
Indiana Manufacturers Association, which represents some 1,400 companies,
including big steelmakers such as ArcelorMittal and Nucor Steel, lobbied to
kill the program. The industry group said the program has increased its
members’ electricity bills by 1 to 3 percent.
The fight between
the different businesses has landed in the lap of Pence, a Republican
champion of business, who must decide by March 27 whether to sign or veto
the legislation, or it will automatically become law.
Pence said last
Friday after lawmakers ended their session that he’ll “very carefully
consider the importance of energy efficiency programs and conservation” that
he called “an important aspect” of Indiana’s energy strategy.
“But we’re also
going to take a careful look at the overall energy costs in the state of
Indiana and then we’ll try and make the best decision we can based on
balancing those interests,” he said.
program’s website says it’s saved enough electricity in the past two years
to power nearly 79,000 Indiana homes, opponents argued during the
legislative session that it has proven too costly and that industrial users
were getting few benefits under the program.
The bill sponsored
by Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, would prohibit the Indiana Utility
Regulatory Commission from extending or beginning new contracts with the
program after this year. It also would also prevent the commission from
requiring utilities to meet specific energy efficiency goals.
On Tuesday, members
of the Sierra Club, the Citizens Action Coalition, and Hoosier Interfaith
Power and Light delivered about 4,100 signatures, including some signed on
online petitions, to Pence’s office asking the governor to save the program.
director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Indiana, said
companies such as Honeywell and Ingersoll Rand have mobilized because the
late session changes to the bill that would effectively end the program they
have benefited from.
“This happened so
quickly, the business community didn’t have a chance to testify because this
came out of the blue really quickly, so now they’re trying to get involved,”
Aaron Parker said the company, which has about 1,100 employees at six
Indiana locations, offers rebates through Energizing Indiana for its
variable frequency drives for commercial and industrial customers. Those
save energy by allowing motors to ramp up and down, instead of operating in
a simple on-or-off mode, he said.
Rebates for the
company’s energy-efficiency commercial lighting systems are also offered
through Indiana’s program.
spokeswoman Paige Muhlenkamp said the company sells numerous
energy-efficient products, including the Trane brand of heating and air
conditioning systems for residential and commercial users. Rebates for those
products are also offered through Energizing Indiana, she said.