Proposed Indiana legislation could threaten environment, raise electric bills

January 23, 2020

A new bill filed last week could raise Hoosiers’ electric bills, threaten the environment, and make it more difficult for Indiana utility companies to transition away from coal-based energy, according to the Indianapolis Star.

House Bill 1414 aims to put more decision-making power about the retirement of Indiana power plants into the hands of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

It would also mandate that plants may only be shut down when required by the law or when the decision is in the public interest. Utilities would no longer be able to shut down plants in order to move to greener forms of energy, to conserve company resources, or because of the age or condition of the plant in question.

The bill’s detractors believe this move could cause members of the commission to favor coal-based energy production over more economic or environmentally friendly alternatives. The bill has raised concerns from environmentalists as well as conservative voters, the Indy Star reports.

Indiana utilities have recently begun transitioning to renewable forms of energy, not only for environmental purposes but also because they are ultimately more cost-effective for the consumer. The Indy Star reports that the Northern Indiana Public Service Company has begun transitioning to more renewable energy sources because the move could save Hoosier households billions of dollars.

By 2023, NIPSCO hopes to reduce its coal dependence to only 17%, down from 71% in 2019.

House Bill 1414 could jeopardize these plans and ultimately prevent Hoosiers from attaining more affordable electric bills, the Indy Star reports.

The bill was proposed by Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, who received campaign donations of $1,000 from coal companies Sunrise and Alliance Coal and $5,000 from the Indiana Coal Political Action Committee last year. Sunrise and Alliance Coal have also made donations to Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb totaling approximately $265,000 since 2016.

The full article from the Indianapolis Star is available here.

Proposed Indiana legislation could threaten environment, raise electric bills