Indiana’s incumbent utilities will have a right of first refusal to build transmission lines approved by a regional transmission organization under a bill signed Monday by Gov. Eric Holcomb, R.
The bill effectively freezes out competitive transmission companies such as LS Power Transmission from building power lines in the state. Utilities that could benefit from the law include AES Indiana, CenterPoint Energy, Duke Energy Indiana and Northern Indiana Public Service Co.
“The decision by Gov. Holcomb to sign this anti-competitive, anti-consumer and inflationary legislation is regrettable,” Paul Cicio, chair of the Electricity Transmission Competition Coalition, said in a statement.
The group contends a lack of competitive pressures will lead incumbent utilities to build more costly transmission facilities. Utilities argue they are better positioned to build transmission lines in their areas and ROFR laws will give states more oversight.
Indiana’s grid is mainly in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s footprint. MISO last year approved a roughly $10.3 billion transmission expansion plan that includes segments running across Indiana.
MISO is developing a second expansion round slated to be approved in mid-2024 that could cost $20 billion to $30 billion. In states without ROFR laws, the projects will be put out to bid.
Including Indiana, seven MISO states have ROFR laws, according to MISO.
Lawmakers in several states have been exploring adopting ROFR laws this year while the Iowa Supreme Court ruled against that state’s law in March. A ROFR bill became law in Mississippi while legislation was defeated in Montana and Oklahoma.