2015 Indiana General Assembly: Utility Bill Watch List

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 13:42

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The monopoly utilities will spin the truth, change the rules, and rig the game - whatever it takes to kill any competition, collect as much money as they can, and take the power away from the people.  

 

And they did it again this year at the Indiana State House.

  • SB412 creates bogus energy efficiency programs that do more harm than good.
  • HB1320 would have taken away our energy freedom and choice by killing small-scale solar and wind.

5-6-15 Bad news: SB412 has been signed into law by Governor Pence.

2-24-15 Victory!  HB1320 was killed!  Thanks to everybody who make their voices heard and came together to fight this awful bill!

CAC remained vigilant for the rest of the legislative session, but the language in HB1320 was never inserted into any other legislation.

 

Priority Utility Legislation

SB412: Demand side management

Authors: Sen. James Merritt (R), Sen. Randall Head (R), Sen. Jean Breaux (D)

Sponsors: Rep. Eric Allan Koch (R), Rep. Alan Morrison (R)

Status: Signed into law by Gov. Pence

Votes:

Position: CAC opposes this bill

Description: Demand side management is a fancy name for energy efficiency on the customer side (or “demand” side) of the meter.  After the State Legislature killed Indiana’s incredibly effective efficiency programs (Energizing Indiana) last year, Gov. Pence promised a strong efficiency bill this year.  Here’s what SB412 does:

  • Allows the utilities to dictate their own energy efficiency goals and programs as a part of their overall planning process.  Without goals being set in Indiana energy policy, we won’t see many results from the utility efficiency programs.  After all, why would they want customers using less of their product?
  • Gives the utilities a lot more money for doing less: limitless lost revenues. In other words, allows utilities to charge us hundreds of millions of dollars for the energy we didn’t use because of energy efficiency.  This allows the monopoly utilities to steal the economic benefit of efficiency from customers.
  • Destroys the cost-effectiveness of efficiency.  When the utilities charge too much for negligible results, energy efficiency is no longer cost-effective.  Therefore, the utilities will not have to offer robust energy efficiency programs. What programs they do offer will be far more expensive than they should be.  This will effectively price energy efficiency out of the Indiana marketplace.
  • Gives utilities “incentives” for efficiency programs without defining what that means.  This is especially outrageous since the utilities are allowed to set their own goals, therefore they will be allowed to establish when they deserve an “incentive”.  This will add even more unnecessary cost to the programs and effectively allows the utilities to reward themselves for underperformance.
  • This bill is so bad, Hoosiers would be better off without any bill at all.

 

HB1320: Generation of electricity by distributed generation.

Authors: Rep. Eric Koch (R), Rep. Randall Frye (R)

Status: Died in the House

Votes:

Position: CAC opposes this bill

Description: Distributed generation primarily refers to small-scale solar and wind.  The utilities are attacking rooftop solar and small-scale wind because it allows us to compete with them.  They are monopolies and they see any type of competition as a threat.  They want our State Legislators to protect them from ANY competition, especially the kind that allows us to keep our money in our own pockets.  Here’s what HB1320 does:
  • Kills net metering. Net metering allows you to generate electricity and get credited for the excess power that you send to the grid at the same price that you pay the utility for it. HB1320 allows the utilities to credit you at a rate that is about 75% less than what you pay them for electricity.
  • Allows the utilities to charge a monthly fee for rooftop solar and small-scale wind. The utilities will be allowed to impose a “tax” just because you invested your money to generate your own electricity on your own property.
  • Allows the utilities set their own interconnection rules.  They will throw up as many roadblocks as they can to make it as difficult as possible for you to connect your solar panels to the grid.  And by allowing them to write their own rules, they will undoubtedly include a charge just for connecting your system to the grid. making it far too expensive.  This is how they kill competition.
  • Prices customer-owned small-scale solar and wind out of the market.  By setting their own rules and prices, utilities will make customer-owned solar and wind so unaffordable that nobody will be able to do it. Additionally, while the bill may enable leasing of rooftop solar in Indiana, by imposing a monthly “tax” and reducing the amount you are credited, leasing will not be economical – making the lease provision nothing more than window dressing. 
  • Under-values the energy generated by rooftop solar and small-scale wind. The bill would place into law that rooftop solar and small-scale wind have no more value than the costs utilities avoided by not burning fossil fuels or purchasing the power on the market. It is well established in other states that the value of solar exceeds the costs and that rooftop solar provides numerous benefits to the customers, the grid and the utilities. This bill would allow the utilities to ignore these benefits and credit you less than market value for the power you send to the grid.

 

SB178: Nuclear energy projects

Author: Sen. James Merritt (R)

Status: Died in the Senate Utilities Committee

Position: CAC opposes this bill

Description: CWIP (Construction Work in Progress) allows utilities to charge us (ratepayers) for power plants while they are being built and not producing any electricity, and even if they NEVER produce any electricity.  Legislation intended to extend CWIP to nuclear power plants has been introduced at the Indiana State House every session since 2008.  Nuclear power plants, as well as new coal plants, are subject to significant cost overruns.  CWIP removes any incentive for the utility to control construction costs which is evident in Indiana with the significant cost overruns realized at Duke Energy’s Edwardsport IGCC plant. Extending CWIP to nuclear power would be equally, if not more devastating to our wallets.

 

The following are more utility bills that CAC is supporting or opposing in the 2015 Indiana General Assembly.

 

The Bad

HB1321: Oil and Natural Gas Regulation

Authors: Rep. Eric Koch (R), Rep. Randall Frye (R), Rep. Heath VanNatter (R)

Status: Died in the House Natural Resources Committee

Position: CAC opposes this bill

Description: House Bill 1321 would amend the statute concerning home rule for units of local government to specify that such units do not have the power to regulate or prohibit oil and gas exploration, development, or production activities, including activities involving horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing.

 

HB1351: Restrictions on rulemaking

Authors: Rep. David Wolkins (R), Rep. Timothy Harman (R), Rep. Chris Judy (R)Rep. Terry Goodin (D)

Sponsor: Rep. Susan Glick (R)

Status: Died in the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee

Votes:

Position: CAC opposes this bill

Description: Voids state administrative rules, guidelines, and other policies or standards that are not specifically authorized by state statue or do not implement a federal requirement. Establishes the office of regulatory accountability in the legislative services agency to review administrative rules for compliance with regulatory goals specified by the general assembly.

 

SB177: Water and wastewater infrastructure costs

Authors: Sen. James Merritt (R), Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R), Sen. Lonnie Randolph (D)

Sponsors: Rep. Heath VanNatter (R), Rep. Eric Allan Koch (R), Rep. Randall Frye (R)

Status: Signed into law by Gov. Pence

Votes:

Position: CAC opposes this bill

Description: For public utilities providing water or wastewater service, Senate Bill 177 would provide that the utility regulatory commission (IURC) may not approve the public utility's petition to allow the adjustment of the public utility's basic rates and charges to provide for recovery of infrastructure improvement costs to the extent that approving the petition would produce total adjustment revenues exceeding 10% (versus 5% under current law) of the public utility's base revenue level approved by the IURC in the public utility's most recent general rate proceeding. Specifies the applicability of this amendment to a public utility that has an adjustment amount in effect at the time of enactment of this amendment. Makes a technical change. 

 

SB360: IURC approval of substitute natural gas contracts

Author: Sen. Mark Messmer (R)

Status: Died in the Senate Utilities Committee

Position: CAC opposes this bill

Description: Senate Bill 360 requires the Indiana finance authority to submit the following to the utility regulatory commission for approval: (1) A contract for the purchase of substitute natural gas (purchase contract). (2) An amendment to a purchase contract. (Current law requires the authority to submit the following to the commission for approval: (1) A purchase contract submitted before January 1, 2012, for approval and amendments. (2) A purchase contract entered into after December 31, 2012. (3) Amendments made at any time to any purchase contract. (4) Any other agreements between the authority and a producer of substitute natural gas.)

This bill is another in a series of bills that have been introduced since 2007 in a desparate attempt to bring the Leucadia/Indiana Gasification substitute natural gas plant back from the dead.  For more info about the Leucadia plant, visit our Leucadia campaign page.

 

SB569: The Reliable, Affordable, and Safe Power Act

Author: Sen. Scott Schneider (R)

Status: Died in the Senate Utilities Committee

Position: CAC opposes this bill

Description: Senate Bill 569 provides that, in response to the federal Environmental Protection Agency Clean Power Plan regulatory activity: (1) the governor and attorney general shall take appropriate steps to protect the state's sovereignty and police power authority in light of the designed federalism under the federal Clean Air Act; (2) the department of environmental management may examine the implications of preparing and implementing proposed regulations, but may not prepare or implement a state implementation plan until completion of judicial review concerning the legality of regulations under the federal Clean Air Act for existing power plants has been fully resolved at law; (3) the utility regulatory commission may not allow electric generating units to be retired prior to their engineering lifetime if the unit is necessary to maintain the grid reliability specified by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in its reliability standards.

 

 

The Good

HB1121: Renewable Energy Standards

Author: Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D)

Status: Died in the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee

Position: CAC supports this bill

Description: House Bill 1121 would incrementally implement a 25% renewable energy standard by the year 2025. The bill establishes a renewable energy resources fund to receive penalties paid by electricity suppliers that fail to supply electricity from renewable energy resources.

 

HB1426: IURC fining authority

Author: Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D)

Status: Died in the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee

Position: CAC supports this bill

Description: House Bill 1426 allows the Indiana utility regulatory commission (IURC) to impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 on a public utility providing energy services if the public utility violates or fails to comply with any: (1) utility law; or (2) rate or service requirement imposed by the IURC. Allows the IURC to impose an additional penalty of up to $10,000 if the violation or failure to comply demonstrates a willful disregard by the public utility of the public utility's duty to remedy the violation or a willful failure to comply.

 

HB1427: Demand side management programs

Author: Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D)

Status: Died in the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee

Position: CAC supports this bill

Description: House Bill 1427 essentially repeals SEA 340-2014, the legislative action that ended the Energizing Indiana program. The bill requires the utility regulatory commission to: (1) enforce an existing; or (2) issue a new; order concerning energy efficiency and demand side management programs. Requires that industrial customers of an electricity supplier that previously opted out of participating in the electricity supplier's energy efficiency programs must: (1) resume participating in the program; or (2) begin participating in a subsequent program.  

 

SB378: Renewable energy standards

Author: Sen. Mark Stoops (D)

Status: Died in the Senate Utilities Committee

Position: CAC supports this bill

Description: Senate Bill 378 would incrementally implement a 25% renewable energy standard by the year 2025. The bill establishes a renewable energy resources fund to receive penalties paid by electricity suppliers that fail to supply electricity from renewable energy resources. HB1121 requires the utility regulatory commission to adopt guidelines to assist electricity suppliers that participated in the CEPS program in complying with the new renewable energy standards.

 

SB503: Net metering for electric utility customers

Author: Sen. Mark Messmer (R)

Status: Died in the Senate Utilities Committee

Position: CAC supports this bill

Description: Requires the utility regulatory commission (IURC) to adopt, not later than August 1, 2015, emergency rules amending the IURC's net metering and interconnection rules for electric utilities. Provides that the amended rules must do the following: (1) Require a municipally owned electric utility under the IURC's jurisdiction to: (A) offer a net metering program to all customers classes; and (B) allow all customer classes to interconnect a customer-generator facility with a distribution facility of the utility. (2) Allow: (A) a municipally owned utility not under the IURC's jurisdiction; or (B) a rural electric membership cooperative; to offer a net metering program to one or more customer classes and allow one or more customer classes to interconnect a customer-generator facility with a distribution facility of the utility or cooperative.

 

SB563: Open-market PACE programs

Author: Sen. Mark Stoops (D)

Status: Died in the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee

Position: CAC supports this bill

Description: Senate Bill 563 authorizes the legislative body of a local governmental unit to designate clean energy improvement financing districts and authorize financing of certain qualified clean energy improvements, including reduced water consumption and waste water discharges, through assessments. Requires the utility regulatory commission to adopt rules to establish technical guidelines to assist local governmental units in administering a district's program.

 

 

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