Pryor: Clean energy should be accessible to all

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INDIANAPOLIS — State Representative Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis) is firmly against the AES Indiana Electric Vehicle Program, which would increase the rates for all ratepayers whether they own an electric vehicle (EV) or not. She sent a letter yesterday to Jim Huston, chairman of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, requesting that the IURC deny the petition.

AES Indiana, formerly Indianapolis Power & Light Company, filed a petition with state regulators to create incentives and rebates for its EV Program. The program includes a discount of five cents per kilowatt hour for EV owners who plug in at night, rebates up to $250 for an electric charger and an annual incentive of $150 for those who participate.

The catch, though, is the cost of all those rebates and incentives — a total of at least $5.06 million — will be passed on to the 500,000 AES Indiana consumers. 

“Though I support EV usage, its increasing popularity should not come at the expense of Indiana’s most vulnerable communities who tend to live in homes with higher utility costs,” Pryor wrote in her letter. “Efforts by AES Indiana to encourage electric vehicle usage at the expense of ratepayers disproportionately affects poor and low-income communities.” 

Pryor condemns charging a captured audience with no alternative to solely benefit those who can already afford EVs. Those fortunate enough to participate in the program should bear the cost. Less than 1% of all vehicles sold in 2018 were electric.

Indianapolis has already seen one electric vehicle program come and go after failing to provide a comprehensive transportation service and leaving higher utility bills in its wake. Pryor spoke out against BlueIndy when it first began, calling it a “bad deal now and forever,” and again when the little blue cars left the streets.

“I said it then and I’ll say it now — I hope we learned a lesson with BlueIndy,” Pryor said. “Do not let history repeat itself and do not let utility bills skyrocket for all Hoosiers.

“I strongly support and feel that the transition to clean energy is crucial as we face the dangers of climate change, however, the proposed incentives and rebates limit the feasibility of using these resources. Adequate efforts to combat climate change require balanced provisions that make clean energy accessible for all.”

Read the full letter from State Representative Cherrish Pryor below:

 

March 16, 2021

 

Chairman Jim Huston
Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission
101 West Washington Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

Dear Chairman Huston,

AES Indiana has filed a petition with state regulators to create incentives and rebates for its Electric Vehicle Program. These incentives would increase the rates for all AES Indiana consumers, electric vehicle (EV) owners and non-owners alike.

Though I support EV usage, its increasing popularity should not come at the expense of Indiana's most vulnerable communities. Efforts by AES Indiana to encourage electric vehicle usage at the expense of ratepayers disproportionately affects poor and low-income communities. Those who are least likely to afford EV's and benefit from these incentives tend to live in older homes with higher utility costs. The petition seeks to pass on at least $5.06 million to a captured audience of ratepayers in an effort to recover carrying charges and deferred cost in subsequent rate cases. These subsequent charges are unspecified.

Former cases similar to AES Indiana, such as the car-sharing program BlueIndy, asked ratepayers to pay higher costs for the benefit of private business. This program failed. I did not support the use of ratepayer funds for private business initiatives then, and I remain opposed to this practice. Allowing for rates to increase is untested water, and this proposed recovery is bad for ratepayers just as BlueIndy proved to be a failure.

Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, a consumer advocate, has also expressed their opposition to this effort to have low-income communities subsidize a program that will likely be inaccessible to them. The transition to clean energy is crucial as we face the dangers of climate change, however, the proposed incentives and rebates limit the feasibility of using these resources. Adequate efforts to combat climate change require balanced provisions that make clean energy accessible for all.

Sincerely,

Cherrish S. Pryor, Democratic Floor Leader
State Representative
House District 94

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