Well, it took them four months, but the anti-rooftop-solar lobby in the Indiana Statehouse is now one signature away from significantly damaging its blossoming solar industry before it can bloom.
The Indiana House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to pass Senate Bill (SB) 309 and returned it to the Senate yesterday with minor amendments. The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Brad Hershman, immediately put forth a motion asking the Senate to concur with the House’s amendments so it could be sent to Gov. Eric J. Holcomb for his signature.
The House vote was 56-43 in favor.
SB 309, a fascinating Trojan horse of a bill, allegedly supports solar while eliminating the state’s popular net-metering program precipitously. Solar advocates like the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance (IDEA) worry that if Gov. Holcomb signs the law, the rooftop solar industry could be irreparably damaged, especially in the residential segment.
Although the bill is no longer as alarming as it was when it was first introduced in January, when it would have forced solar consumers to sell the electricity to the utility at below-market rates and then buy their electricity back from the utility at higher retail rate (known as a “sell all, buy all” system), the bill still allows utilities to prematurely shut down net-metering as soon as such incentives equal 1% of a utility’s peak summer load, which could happen for some utilities as soon as three years from now.
Hershman, the body’s Majority Leader, removed the “sell all, buy all” provisions when the bill was before the Senate’s Committee on Utilities, but his testimony in favor of the bill drew harsh criticism from his colleagues when they discovered he had lied about the urgency of the bill.
As pv magazine reported at the time:
[Hershman] claimed that without SB 309, everyone making use of solar net-metering would lose the benefit once utilities reached the current 1% cap.
Turns out, Hershman pulled that “fact” out of thin air. No such provision exists under the current law, which make SB 309’s harsh curtailment of the program unnecessary. It’s no surprise that Hershman has been generously supported by the state’s utilities.
On [Feb. 24], Hershman walked back the lie while still calling it “accurate” (it is not accurate).
“This is a manufactured controversy from a liberal special interest group seeking to perpetuate a program that, as it grows, will hurt consumers while financially benefiting the group’s clients,” Hershman told the Associated Press (AP).
While it’s not entirely clear to whom Hershman is referring, the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance is the group that blew the whistle on Hershman’s perfidy.
The irony is that Indiana’s solar employment grew more than 72% in 2016, according to The Solar Foundation’s recently released National Solar Jobs Census. It is currently home to 2,700 jobs, 1,738 of which are on the installation side. One of the counties Hershman represents is in the Top 10 counties in the state for solar jobs, which makes his support of the bill a bit baffling.
Current Indiana law mandates that utilities procure 10% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2025.
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It’s important to remember that such regressive policies are subject to change after any election. The economics of PV will only improve with time, and the myth of a ratepayer “subsidy” will be fully debunked as other, more progressive states resolve the issue of merging DER’s with IOU’s. Soon enough, Mr. Hershmann will be seen for what he is.
I have many customers in Indiana who have reduced and or eliminated their electric bills with my RoofMill wind/solar product. The thought of a state government (SIDING) on the big utility to DENY their rights of energy freedom disgusts me.
However, I must say that I do not encourage customers to generate beyond their use. Selling power is not the best goal. Replacing power is the best ROI. Every watt you replace = FULL RETAIL COST. Thats what I focus on because after you go into selling and being paid the ROI is usually about 1/2 the replacement power cost.
So, its very important for consumers to know 3 things. (1) A grid tie with an investor owned utility is federal mandated. They must allow you a grid tie. (2) I power homes and ranches fully off grid and it stall makes economical sense and will ROI. (3) If a utility doesn’t net meter to p[ay you a cent, a rooftop solar or any other wind/solar system in Indiana WILL STILL ROI. I can show any customer in Indiana that math. I encourage them to go with green energy anyway.
(4) The utilities and their sell out politicians in Indiana should walk the plank for this behavior. Utility vs Wind/Solar = Utility doesn’t stand a chance. Its plain math. The public will be going wind/solar and the utility will make themselves less and less useful to continue to bite the hand that feeds them.
Any politician involved in this should go down and face a primary of national supported defeat at every official taking part in this effort, OUT.
Please tell the Gov. to veto this bill.
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