The Daily Reformer
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Senate is drastically changing a controversial renewable energy bill.
The House version of HB 1381 set state standards for wind and solar projects, leaving local government with less say.
State Sen. Mark Messmer’s amendment takes a much different approach.
“This is about as big of a 180 as I’ve seen on a bill,” said State Sen. Chip Perfect before he voted “yes” on a the amended bill. He said he would have been a “no” if not for Messmer’s changes.
“We’re truly keeping everything in this process at the local control level,” said Messmer.
Originally, the bill established state standards for wind and solar, giving locals some say in how it’s approved but not complete authority. Now, it gives counties the option to adopt a renewable energy district.
“It would allow a county that already has a more restrictive ordinance to adopt and work with the renewable companies to make sure the function of a renewable energy district was functional,” said Messmer.
State energy renewable district parameters are not required, but they do provide a $3,000 per megawatt construction fee that would come from renewable companies and benefit local communities.
“It’s our hope that [House Bill] 1381 creates a framework for a clear and sensible set of rules that encourages renewable energy investments to meet the needs of Hoosier businesses and citizens alike,” said Joe Rompala with Indiana Industrial Energy Consumers
“Passage of this bill is a win for everyone: communities in dire need of economic investment, companies that are seeking to make those investments and Hoosier families that will benefit from the jobs and new source of revenue from their community,” added Caryl Auslander with Advance Energy Economy Indiana.
“Without the amendment, we would have to have been a ‘no,'” said Katrina Hall with the Indiana Farm Bureau. “I do want to point that out that my members are really strong on local control.”
However, not everyone is on board even with the amendment. Some don’t think the state should be involved in this process at all.
Others just hope lawmakers move forward with caution.
“It is important that the amendment be a may and not a shall and that any grandfathering include both solar and wind so not to impact our community’s economic development plans,” said Tom Murtaugh, the legislative chairman of the Indiana Association of County Commissioners.
The bill passed committee 9-2 and now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.