February 23, 2017

Amendment To Send Net Metering Bill To Study Committee Fails

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Brandon Smith/IPB

Brandon Smith/IPB

Two lawmakers failed to assign the so-called “net-metering” bill for further study Thursday. It is now cleared for consideration by the full Senate.

Under current rules, Hoosiers who generate energy, like those with rooftop solar panels, can sell any excess energy back to utilities at a retail rate.

The bill from Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek) would slowly lower that rate. By 2047, the rate customers claim for excess energy would drop from the retail rate to a rate slightly higher than the wholesale one.

Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) was one of two lawmakers who tried several times to amend the bill. Lanane says the matter needs further study, either by a summer study committee or the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

“And I know that’s sort of kicking the can down the road, but I have so many questions about what we’re doing here and why we’re doing it,” says Lanane.

But for his part, Hershman says the bill provides structure and long-term certainty.

“And actually encouraging people to avail themselves of alternative energy, just not at an outrageous subsidy,” Hershman says.

In earlier committee hearings, lawmakers heard hours of opposing public testimony from school districts, religious groups, and small businesses. A protest was also held earlier this week, where Christopher Holley said the bill is causing uncertainty. He is president of a solar company in Kokomo.

“The existence of this bill is cooling off the market already,” says Holley. “And I’m already seeing people decide not to go forward with projects just in the last month or two.”

Holley says the drop in growth means he can no longer give three part-time staffers full-time jobs, as he planned.

If the Senate does not pass SB 309 by Tuesday Feb. 28, it will not continue to the House.

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