Sierran Masthead

Members Work for a Rational Energy Policy

by John Taylor, Five Rivers Group

The struggle for a sane state energy policy continues. No one wants to end up like California, with a large number of plants shut down for maintenance while out-of-state merchant power plants--which sell power on the wholesale market to other power companies during peak periods--generate electricity for several hundred times the price and withhold power when the state utility canít pay. Itís a sordid affair, caused by an ill-conceived utility deregulation scheme.

Across Indiana, there has been an escalation of efforts on both sides of the peaking plant issue, which stems from deregulation in other states connected to Indiana by the electrical grid.

Another peaking power plant has been proposed for our state, which I believe brings us to 35. The newly announced Hamilton County peaking plant proposed by PSEG from New Jersey could take 4 to 9 million gallons from the White River every day.

In contrast to recent testimonial from Cinergy president Jim Turner, it is helpful to keep in mind that Indiana does not need additional new generation capacity beyond what has been approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. At current growth rates, we have enough generation capacity in existence and approved to last at least until 2016, according to the State Utility Forecasting Group of Purdue.

What Indiana needs is an energy policy that embraces and promotes use of modern technology to reduce reliance on a centralized power supply. Several forward-thinking lawmakers, including Tiny Adams, have begun examining economic incentives to reduce energy demand and encourage use of clean and renewable energy technology in Indiana.

Adams along with Representatives Bruce Munson, Ron Liggett, and Dean Young have proposed legislation to the Indiana General Assembly (HB 1979) to help with siting issues related to new electrical generation facilities. Among other benefits, this bill would give local government veto authority if the community does not want the facility built at the location proposed, or at all.

Let us not forget that our electricity supply comes mainly from coal, the single largest source of air pollutants in the state. Nor should we forget, as we battle over-300- to 1800-megawatt peaking plants, who the real polluters in Indiana are, the lives they impact, and the environment they destroy. Peaking plants are one battle. Nonrenewable energy constitutes the theater of battle surrounding the peaking plant struggle.

But the war, the war is against the misuse or nonuse of technology that benefits those with money and punishes those without. We should engage in a war that seeks to change the values of society, values that promote the destruction of the last pristine places, the genocide of cultures, and the abandonment of our humanity in obedience to and worship of the dollar. Until we win this war, there can be no real protection of our environment or future.

A final item: In December, the Citizens Action Coalition presented its Presidentís Award to six citizens groups struggling to direct Indiana toward a rational energy policy. Grant, Henry, and Delaware counties (within the Five Rivers Group area), as well as Bartholomew, Wells, and Pike counties, were recognized. I and other members of the Five Rivers Group were honored to be among those recognized.

Copyright © 2007 Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, all rights reserved.[8/11/02]efp

Spring 2001