Indiana governor taps Republican lawmaker for Utility Regulatory Commission
- Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) has selected Republican Rep. Dave Ober to serve a four-year term on the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Ober is chair of the House Committee on Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications.
- Ober was a co-sponsor of legislation passed last year to phase out Indiana's retail net metering program. A liberal watchdog group says he has received thousands of dollars in support from utilities and has a history of sponsoring utility-friendly legislation.
- The commission has another vacancy pending. The IURC Nominating Committee will accept applications until April 9 to fill the vacancy that will be created by the expiration of Angela Weber’s term.
The Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) has a lengthy takedown of Ober's selection, noting his history of accepting thousands in utility contributions and backing legislation favorable to the industry.
EPI says a review of lobbying records and campaign contributions shows Ober has received $24,000 from utilities and cooperatives since 2012. American Electric Power contributed almost $9,000, EPI said.
Ober was a co-sponsor of legislation last year to phase out retail net metering, though EPI credits him with also backing an amendment to ensure utilities did not continue seeking lower reimbursement rates. Under the law, which Holcomb signed, systems installed by the end of last year will receive the retail rate for 30 years — but the rate will be lowered over a series of years for other customers after 2022. After 2022, customers with generation installed will be compensated at utility's marginal cost, plus 25%.
Ober was appointed chair of the House Committee on Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications in 2016. He said in a statement at the time that he was looking forward to "working on policies that improve Indiana's position as a low-cost energy state and address critical issues facing Hoosiers."
Indiana regulators will face several significant decisions this year, including taking on Vectren'sproposed gas plant, which could cost $900 million and generate 800 MW to 900 MW.
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