Controversial Indiana solar bill moves quickly through critical committee
- Members of Indiana’s House Utilities Committee heard testimony on HB 1320 from utilities representatives and renewables advocates and then voted along party lines to send the bill to the full state House.
- The bill would legalize solar leasing in Indiana but change the remuneration for net metered solar from the retail rate to the significantly lower avoided cost measure, and allow Indiana utilities to add new bill charges for solar.
- Renewables advocates and Democrats asked for a delay of the bill, introduced by Committee Chair/Republican Representative Eric Koch, until an in-depth study could be conducted. Indiana Energy Association President Mark Maasel spoke for the utility group’s “pro-solar” bill, arguing it would protect customers by preventing a hypothetical shift of costs for grid infrastructure to non-solar owners caused by solar owners' reduced utility bills.
HB 1320 would also allow Indiana utilities, with Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission approval, to establish, for the first time, both a fixed monthly charge to DG system owners’ bills and rules for DG interconnection which may, for the first time in the state, lead to interconnection fees. All nine Republicans on the Utilities Committee voted for the measure, while all six Democrats opposed it.
A broad coalition including environmentalists, conservative Christians, the NAACP and tea party representatives oppose the bill. Citizens Action Coalition Executive Director Kerwin Olson said it can be stopped in the Senate.
“This is an attack on solar and on freedom of choice going on nationwide,” said Atlanta Tea Party Patriots Co-Chair Debbie Dooley.
By lowering net metering remuneration for DG owners, adding a monthly fixed charge to bills, and instituting interconnection fees, the very solar leasing program the bill authorizes becomes uneconomic, Midwest spokesperson for the Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC) Amy Heart recently told Utility Dive. “But Indiana legislators may not see past its advocates’ claim that it is pro-solar.”
- Indianapolis Star Indiana House panel OKs solar bill on party-line vote