By Mary Kuhlman
What should Indiana's energy-efficiency programs look like? State leaders are requesting ideas about how to craft effective energy-efficiency policies.
The Citizens Action Coalition is weighing in, and its executive director, Kerwin Olson, is convinced the best path forward is to repeal Senate Enrolled Bill 340, which weakened the state's energy law. He said it's important to ensure large utilities participate in efficiency programs, to maximize their resources and save money.
"Utilities in the state of Indiana should be required to pursue all available cost-effective energy-efficiency resources," he said, "in order to meet their legal obligation of providing least-cost service to their captive customers."
Olson said his group also wants the state to establish a public-purpose fund using all ratepayers' money, with an independent administrator to oversee the fund and to implement statewide energy-efficiency and demand-side management programs. About 2,500 people signed the comments being sent to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
Olson said a public purpose fund would allow all energy users to pay in based on a percentage of their bill, making it fair for customers of all sizes. He said that would help end what he called an "excessive amount" of compensation that utilities receive for the cost of their energy-efficiency programs.
"The way that they recover costs from the public right now unnecessarily makes energy-efficiency programs more expensive than they otherwise need to be," he said, "and a public purpose fund, paid into by all ratepayers, removes that conundrum."
Olson said a public purpose fund also prevents utilities from inflating the cost of energy-efficiency and demand-side management. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission is expected to release recommendations to the governor by year's end.
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