Our Position

Indiana must make replacing dirty coal-fired electric plants with conservation, energy efficiency, customer-owned solar energy, and utility-scale renewable energy a top priority, as is occurring at a fast clip in Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio.

A leading policy strategy would be for Indiana to re-enact an energy efficiency portfolio standard, also called an energy efficiency resource standard (EERS).    Indiana had an EERS from 2010 to 2014, thanks to Governor Daniels and the advocacy of several consumer & environmental groups, but it was abolished by Governor Pence and the Indiana General Assembly in 2014.   An EERS is the fastest, most cost-effective way for states to reduce their energy usage — saving homes and businesses money, spurring a vibrant building retrofit sector, and reducing the need for costly new, carbon-polluting power plants.   In the absence of an EERS, the Hoosier Environmental Council is exploring the idea of getting involved in efforts to strengthen the energy efficiency plans that are periodically released by Indiana’s investor-owned utilities.

A second major public policy that is missing in Indiana is a “Property Assessed Clean Energy” (PACE) financing law.   The term may sound technical, but it refers to the idea of the Indiana General Assembly allowing for cities & counties to create special financing programs that give low-interest loans to small businesses to invest in solar energy and energy-saving equipment, whereby the loan stays with the property, rather than the property owner.  Since the loan stays with the property, it allows the property owner to take the plunge in going green, without worrying about the precise length of his/her payback period.   PACE exists in all states in the Midwest, but Indiana and Iowa (PACE Nation, 2017).   The Hoosier Environmental Council has been the state’s leading advocate for this law, securing bi-partisan support for a PACE financing bill twice.   HEC is waiting for the right set of circumstances to emerge in the legislature before pursuing this effort again.

A third policy front where we seek to accelerate the transition from our historic fossil fuel addiction to zero carbon emissions energy lies in influencing the policies of individual investor-owned utilities with respect to their power plants.   Utilities sometimes choose the option of retrofitting already old coal plants instead of shutting them and replacing them with much cleaner sources of electricity.   Through a combination of research, education, and grassroots organizing, HEC was involved in a very focused way in a successful campaign that led a major utility company to retire their coal plant and replace it with natural gas; while gas is quite problematic in terms of the risks posed by hydraulic fracturing to groundwater, gas has a carbon footprint that is nearly half of coal’s (EIA, 2017).   HEC occasionally weighs in on environmental cases (as an intervenor) as well as rate cases (as a commenter) before the Utility Regulatory Commission.

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