"Benjamin Franklin" reads the Hoosier Declaration of Energy Independence. Photo Credit: Amber Stearns

"Benjamin Franklin" reads the Hoosier Declaration of Energy Independence. Photo Credit: Amber Stearns

Give me energy freedom or… 

Hoosiers rally to urge lawmakers to protect their choice for energy freedom

Homeowners, faith leaders, and clean energy supporters gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Indianapolis to hear Benjamin Franklin read the declaration of independence.

Okay, so it wasn’t THE Ben Franklin (although he looked a lot like him), and it wasn’t THE Declaration of Independence. But it was a “Hoosier Declaration of Energy Independence” to inform Indiana residents, lawmakers and power companies about what should be important for our community in terms of renewable energy and energy conservation. The “Declaration for Energy Independence” calls for the right to clean air, clean water and energy freedom from the “tyranny” of Indiana’s utility monopolies.

As the Indiana General Assembly moves through the second half of this year’s legislative session, clean energy supporters are keeping a watchful eye on the legislature to make sure their voices are heard. There is concern that Senate Bill 412, which is Gov. Pence’s proposal to replace the Energizing Indiana plan for energy conservation, will survive the session. There is also concern House Bill 1320, which would have put an end to net metering and added monthly charges and connection fees to customers who generate their own power through rooftop solar or small-scale wind, could find new life as an amendment to another bill.

“I believe it is critical for our country to become more energy independent and to do it with clean renewable energy,” said Ray Wilson, a registered professional engineer and member of Indy Green Congregations. “And yet the monopoly utilities are pushing legislation that would restrict or stop the adoption of clean renewable energy such as rooftop solar and energy efficiency. Let’s protect energy choice in our state by keeping rooftop solar and energy efficiency strong.”

HB 1320 is dead, for now. But, SB 412 passed the Senate and is now in the House for consideration. SB 412 would allow utility companies to:

  • Set their own energy efficiency goals
  • Collect unlimited incentives and "lost revenues" for an unlimited number of years on electricity they no longer sell, with no oversight or audits of their claims
  • Set up their own measurement systems to decide if they’ve met their goals
  • Develop long-term energy plans without considering and incorporating public comments

The legislation is supposed to replace Energizing Indiana, a program created under the Mitch Daniels Administration that reached out directly to the consumers, residents and businesses to educate them on energy conservation and point out methods for energy waste reduction. Pence ended the program, agreeing with opponents that the program wasn’t cost effective. Clean energy supporters want that program, or something like it and their energy freedom back.

The Hoosier Declaration of Energy Independence

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for people to dissolve the wires that have connected then to an oppressor, they should declare what causes them to take such action.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal, that they are entitled to certain unalienable Rights, that among these are the right to Clean Air, Clean Water and Energy Freedom.

Electrical service is meant to be provided for benefit of the people, who have a right to clean, affordable and reliable power based upon policies established with the consent of the governed – and not policies bought and paid for by monopoly for-profit utility companies.

That whenever any electric utility becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to declare their Energy Independence and to take responsibility for their own power generation, based on principles that seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.

As with our nation’s Forefathers, the People should not take thee steps lightly. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations place them under tyrannical utility control, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such utilities and secure new power for their future security.

The history of Indiana’s utility monopolies is a history of repeated injuries, all seeking to establish absolute Tyranny over Hoosier homeowners and small businesses. Under the guise of the Indiana energy Association, Duke Energy, Indiana & Michigan Power Co., Indianapolis Power & Light, Northern Indiana Public Service Company and Vectren are all complicit in this tyranny. To prove this, consider these facts:

-They successfully abolished the Energizing Indiana program, which was saving three dollars for every dollar spent and helping Hoosier families save energy and lower their electric bills.

-They have sought to collect unlimited “lost revenues” for electricity they no longer sell a result of energy efficiency activities, guaranteeing themselves continued profits at the people’s expense.

-They have refused to be held accountable for reducing energy demand and achieving cost-effective energy savings goals set by the State of Indiana.

-They have tried to kill our right to generate our own power through the sun that shines on our rooftops and the wind that blows through our farm fields and our right to receive fair credit for the power we send freely and generously into the grid.

-They have sought to enslave us to dirty, outdated coal-fired power plants at the expense of struggling Hoosiers today, and also at the cost of future generations who will have to live with the consequences of their irresponsible decision-making.

We, therefore, solemnly declare that our homes, businesses, and farms are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent of the tyrannical control of monopoly electric utility interests. We call on our elected officials to join us in declaring independence from Indiana Energy Association control. And for the support of this Declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our Loyalty, our Support and our sacred Honor.

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Amber Stearns

Amber Stearns

Bio:
Amber Stearns was born, raised, and educated right here in Indianapolis. She holds a B.S. in Communications from the University of Indianapolis (1995). Following a 20-year career in radio news in Indiana, Amber joined NUVO as News Editor in 2014.

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