Energy Efficiency Business Leaders Urge Indiana Lawmakers To Protect Jobs & Savings

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Shane Levy, Sierra Club, shane.levy@sierraclub.org, 201-679-9507
Jodi Perras, Sierra Club, jodi.perras@sierraclub.org, 317-407-0148
Kerwin Olson, Citizens Action Coalition, kolson@citact.org, 317-702-0461
Jesse Kharbanda, Hoosier Environmental Council, jkharbanda@hecweb.org, 317-979-3236

INDIANAPOLIS - Job creators from across Indiana called on lawmakers today to protect energy efficiency jobs by rejecting Senate Bill 340, which would end Indiana’s successful statewide energy savings programs. Joining with faith leaders and citizens groups at the Indiana Statehouse, business leaders highlighted the economic benefits of Indiana’s 2009 program that set statewide energy savings goals. 

“The citizens of the state have benefited through energy savings. Many Hoosiers have new jobs, joining the ranks of retailers, manufacturers, contractors and implementation firms who are helping to deliver these savings,” said Sam Sirkin, Director of JACO Environmental. 

JACO has been working in Indiana since 2010, delivering energy efficiency appliance recycling programs tied to Daniels Administration’s 2009 demand-side management (DSM) order. Programs delivered by JACO already have saved Indiana electric customers almost $3 million per year. 

“If approved, Senate Bill 340 will gut Indiana’s energy efficiency portfolio, destroy investments and jobs that have taken years to build, and cut infrastructure for energy efficiency that saves Indiana customers millions of dollars per year in energy costs,” Sirkin said.

“My customers have been able to install appliances that are more energy efficient because of utility rebates. This saves them money on their electricity bills and reduces energy waste,” said Chris Maher, Owner of Energy Outfitter, a Westfield-based home and business insulation and energy solutions company. “Bottom line:  Indiana’s energy efficiency programs create jobs and save my customers money.”

Last week, the Indiana House approved a version of Senate Bill 340 that will end the state’s energy efficiency program by prohibiting the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) from requiring utilities to meet any energy savings goals. SB 340 would also prohibit the IURC from extending or entering into a new contract to run the statewide Energizing Indiana program. The State Senate is now considering the legislation. 

"SB340 will hinder progress in our state’s developing ‘energy efficiency’ marketplace and green economy. All of our members and member companies want to participate in the continued long-term energy strategy for Indiana's buildings and community prosperity,” said Stewart Whitcomb, Chapter Chair for the Indiana U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The Indiana Chapter of the USGBC recently asked its members to take action in opposition to the legislation.

Energizing Indiana has created as many as 400 direct jobs and served 200,000 Hoosier households and businesses. An independent evaluation concluded that for every dollar spent on “demand-side management” programs, Indiana utilities saved two dollars, resulting in more than $80 million in savings in 2012. Industrial and commercial programs were even more cost-effective -- saving $3.19 for every dollar spent. 

Energy efficiency programs also protect Hoosier ratepayers from the cost of building expensive new power plants that are not needed. In a study released last year, the State Utility Forecasting Group at Purdue University predicted that Indiana's energy efficiency program will save 1,800 megawatts in peak energy demand by 2022. These savings would avoid the need to build 2.5 power plants the size of the Harding Street Power Station on the south side of Indianapolis.

Energizing Indiana’s lighting rebate program helped our church to install energy efficient lighting that spectacularly reduced our electricity bills.  On Indianapolis’ near-east side, where I live, Energizing Indiana has made a tremendous difference in the homes of low-income residents. Programs that lift the poor by insulating leaky homes honors our mandate to love our neighbors as ourselves,” said Rev. Wyatt T. Watkins, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Cumberland and member of the board of Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light. “We believe energy conservation is the single most critical thing we can do to make Indiana cleaner, healthier and more competitive.”

In addition to the businesses represented at today’s press conference, a diverse coalition of citizens, faith, and environmental groups are opposed to SB 340, including Citizens Action Coalition, Hoosier Environmental Council, Earth Charter Indiana, Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light, Indiana NAACP, Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance, and Sierra Club. 

“The Daniels administration recognized that one of the keys to economic success for the state and financial stability for consumers is energy efficiency,” said Kerwin Olson, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition. “Off-the-shelf, inexpensive technology can allow us to do more with less. We have the ability to be more comfortable in our homes and pay less for heat and air conditioning, light our homes more cheaply, and operate our businesses less expensively. We urge the Indiana General Assembly and Governor Pence to protect ratepayers, protect our economy, and reject SB340.”  

“Legislative leaders pledged in their agenda earlier this year that ‘Indiana must…look for every opportunity to stay ahead of the competition.’   A key part of that strategy ought to be managing energy bills for hard-working Hoosier small businesses and working families,” said Jesse Kharbanda, Executive Director of the Hoosier Environmental Council.   “Lawmakers must hold off making SB 340 the law; SB 340 eliminates the best tool that Indiana has to manage those energy costs -- a program that would not have been possible without their fellow conservative Mitch Daniels' leadership in 2009."

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