Indianapolis News

Panel recommends new utility pricing options,

The state’s utility regulations, according to lawmakers on Wednesday, need to be drastically altered to create room for new energy sources.

After two years of work, a bipartisan legislative panel approved a set of recommendations for the parliamentarians to take into consideration during the following session. The permitting of pilot energy projects that incorporate the use of alternate fuels as well as the exploration of multiyear utility rate plans and safety rules for battery storage, tiny modular reactants, and hydrogen facilities are some of these. A method that has been proved to lower carbon emissions is mixing hydrogen with natural gas before burning it in power plants, according to committee chair Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso.

Many of the recommendations, he continued, “had to do with reliability.” The experience in California was comparable to that in Europe, where there wasn’t enough backup for the quickly developing renewables.

Increasing the availability of time-varying pricing structures, which enable utilities to modify their prices in response to shifting demand, is one of the proposals. Environmentalists assert that such pricing cuts pollution and lowers overall consumer prices.

Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington, made a number of suggestions, but the committee rejected them all, prompting two Democrats to vote against adopting the report. Pierce also favored providing utility assistance programs with state funds. In order to prevent low-income households from having to forgo energy upgrades due to health concerns, he also suggested a program for additional mold cleanup. Pierce said that while he approved of the current recommendations, the panel failed to address Indiana’s most pressing energy problems.

Energy efficiency, according to him, may be raised. The committee’s report does not necessarily result in changes to policy. When lawmakers return to the Statehouse in January, the decision will still be up to them.