The arguments of proponents of Indiana Senate Bill 309 ring hollow for Hoosiers. Supporters say the bill would rectify a fairness issue, reducing the rate paid to owners of properties with solar panels for the energy they generate and feed back into the electrical grid.
In truth, the bill is the brainchild of the big utilities. It's designed to discourage the installment of solar, striking a blow against "net metering" and thereby consolidating the power of the utilities.
Senate Bill 309, authored by Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, would essentially make solar panels unprofitable by rolling back the buy-back rate from consumers. The rate is currently set at 10 cents per kilowatt hour, which is the retail rate for electricity. SB 309 would cut the buy-back rate to just 3 cents per kilowatt hour.
Unless you're a utility company, this bill pushes Hoosiers in the wrong direction — away from the clean energy that solar produces and toward continued dependence on electricity produced by polluting fossil fuels.
Faced with resistance from clean-energy enthusiasts and more moderate Hoosiers, supporters of the bill have amended it to soften the blow — temporarily.
The bill passed the Indiana Senate in late February after an amendment grandfathered the rate for current solar customers for three decades. Another amendment offers those who install solar panels by 2022 the retail exchange rate for 10 years. Any consumer who installs solar panels after 2022 would be ineligible for net metering.
Monday night at a Third House session at Anderson Public Library, two local legislators spoke out against SB 309, which has been referred to the Indiana House Committee on Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications.
Indiana Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, summed it up succinctly.
“This is an attempt by existing electric companies to halt the increased use of solar energy,” he said.
Our state representatives should vote against this bill and instead vote in the best interests of the environment and Hoosier consumers.