The 2020 Indiana General concluded in early March. The following are summaries of the primary legislation from this session.
HEA 1414 – ELECTRIC GENERATION
Signed by governor March 21
public utility may not retire, sell or transfer a reliable capacity resource
with a capacity of at least 80 megawatts before May 1, 2021, unless:
- The public utility first provides written notice to the IURC of the public utility’s intent to do so.
- The IURC conducts a public hearing to receive information concerning the reasonableness of the planned retirement, sale or transfer.
- Requires the IURC to conduct the required hearing and issue its analysis and conclusions concerning the reasonableness of the planned retirement, sale or transfer not later than 120 days after the date of the IURC’s receipt of the public utility’s written notice to the IURC.
the planned retirement, sale or transfer:
- Was included in the public utility’s preferred portfolio in the public utility’s most recent integrated resource plan, the public utility may proceed with the planned retirement, sale or transfer after the commission issues the commission’s analysis and conclusions; or
- Was not included in the public utility’s preferred portfolio in the public utility’s most recent integrated resource plan, the public utility may not proceed with the planned retirement, sale or transfer until at least six months have elapsed from the date of the commission’s receipt of the public utility’s written notice of the planned retirement, sale or transfer.
- A public utility that owns and operates a reliable capacity electric generation resource shall operate and maintain the unit using good utility practices and in a manner reasonably intended to support the availability of the unit for dispatch and for providing reliable service to customers of the public utility.
- After being amended significantly to remove several offensive provisions, the bill passed the House and Senate. The path IEC pursued all session was getting an explicit exemption from this bill. While we did not get a specific exemption, we were able to help get language in the bill that we believe makes it not apply to any of the cooperative generation facilities.
- IEC also helped get language removed that would have allowed utilities to claim a 100-basis point tracker, which could have indirectly increased electric rates. We have been working with the IURC to see how they will interpret the provisions of the bill. Their current interpretation is this bill will not impact any plant closures prior to the May 1, 2021, sunset date for this bill.
SB 102 – INTERIM STUDY COMMITTEE ON UTILITY TAXES AND FEES
Possible interim study committee
- Interim study committee on the topic of fees and taxes authorized by Indiana collected through utility bills, telecommunication bills and video service bills. Specifies the committee will consider:
- How the fees and taxes are used;
- The factors driving increased fees and taxes;
- The best practices of other states; and
- The potential for reform or reduction of fees and taxes.
- This bill passed the Senate and will be referred to the Legislative Counsel for assignment to an interim study committee.
- Interim study committees are designed to study issues where a problem exists and the legislature needs to study if there is an adequate solution and, if so, what that solution should entail in preparation for potential legislation the following session.
SEA 177 – ADMINISTRATION OF THE BROADBAND READY PROGRAM
Signed by governor March 18
- Transfers administration of broadband ready community’s development center from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) to the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA).
- This bill passed the House and Senate. IEC supported this bill because it will create better continuity regarding how various state broadband programs are administered.
HEA 1066 – VARIOUS EDUCATION MATTERS
Signed by governor March 21
- Amended language from SB 195 (Career and Technical Education Clusters), which creates a career and technical education cluster that allows students to acquire knowledge and skills related to employment in the electric, natural gas, communications, water and wastewater utility industries.
- After being amended into three different bills, the language from SB 195 was successfully amended into HEA 1066 that passed both the House and Senate. IEC supported this language because it will encourage more students to consider careers in the utility and telecommunications industries.
SB 349 – BROADBAND GRANT PROGRAM
- Proposed language would have limited the REMCs’ broadband service deployment to their service territory. The proposed language would have also added a secondary challenge process to the grant program, which would have delayed the distribution of grants for several months.
- SB 349 was defeated. While this bill started out with some favorable language that would have increased the speeds to qualify for state grant dollars, it quickly turned into a vehicle for potential harmful language to be amended into the bill that would have prohibited REMCs from deploying broadband outside their service territories.
- IEC also helped prevent language from being passed that would have added a 30-day secondary challenge process to the state grant program. This would have done nothing more than delay the deployment of state grant dollars for eligible broadband projects.
SB 411 – LEASING OF BROADBAND CAPACITY INFRASTRUCTURE
Possible interim study committee
- Interim study committee on installation and leasing of broadband capacity infrastructure by investor-owned electric utilities to broadband service providers for the provision of broadband internet service to unserved and underserved areas in Indiana.
- This bill passed and will be referred to the Legislative Counsel for consideration as an interim study committee. IEC was neutral on this bill and will closely monitor any developments this summer if it is assigned to an interim study committee.