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Indiana Senate Passes Renewable Electricity Standard in HB 1117 by Vote of 33 to 12 February 20, 2008

Posted by Laura Arnold in Uncategorized.
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Around 2:30 pm yesterday afternoon (02/19/08) the Indiana State Senate passed HB 1117 by a vote of 33 to 12. The bill contains the weak Renewable Electricity Standards (RES) language that was originally in SB 224. Chapter 37 contains the language regarding Renewable Energy Development.

To see how your State Senator voted please see:
http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2008/PDF/Srollcal/0209.PDF.pdf

HB 1117 specifies that each Indiana electricity supplier shall supply electricity that is generated from a renewable energy resource or an advanced energy resource to Indiana retail customers as a percentage of the total electricity supplied as follows:

  • 2% by 2011;
  • 4% by 2016; and
  • 6% by 2020.

An electricity supplier may not use an advanced energy resource to supply more than 50% of the electricity. The bill exempts municipal electric utilities as well as rural electric co-ops or REMC’s.

The bill defines “renewable energy resources” as alternative sources of renewable energy, including the following:

  • wind energy;
  • solar energy;
  • photovoltaic cells and panels;
  • dedicated crops grown for energy production;
  • organic waste biomass;
  • hydropower from existing dams;
  • fuel cells;
  • energy from waste to energy facilities that produce steam that is not used for the production of electricity;
  • methane systems that convert waste products including animal, food, and plant waste, into electricity;
  • methane recovered from landfills or underground coal mines; and
  • ocean current or wave energy.

A renewable energy resource does not include energy from the incineration, burning, or heating of the following:

  • tires;
  • garbage;
  • general household, institutional, or commercial waste;
  • industrial lunchroom or office waste.; and
  • feedstock that is municipal, food, plant, industrial, or animal waste from outside Indiana.
The bill defines “advanced energy resources” as the following sources and programs for the production or conservation of electricity:
  • combined heat and power systems that: (A) use natural gas or renewable energy resources as feedstock; and (B) achieve at least seventy percent (70%) overall efficiency;
  • demand side management or energy efficiency programs that: (A) reduce electricity consumption; or (B) implement load management or demand response technologies that shift customers’ electric load from periods of higher demand to periods of lower demand;
  • waste coal;
  • clean coal and energy projects (as defined in IC 8-1-8.8-2); and
  • other non-carbon dioxide emitting or low carbon dioxide emitting electricity generating technologies, including integrated gasification combined cycle generation with the capability for carbon capture and sequestration through: (A) storage; or (B) enhanced oil recovery.

To view the bill in its entirety see: http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2008/PDF/EH/EH1117.1.pdf.

So what happens next? The bill returns to the House with amendments. The House author Rep. Russ Stilwell (D-Boonville) has two choices: 1) file a motion to concur with the amendments added to HB 1117 in the Senate and then a roll call vote is required on the House floor or 2) file a dissent motion and request that the bill be appointed to a Conference Committee. I expect HB 1117 will go to a Conference Committee.

When a bill goes to a conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill, four legislators are appointed to work out the differences. Normally, there are two House members–a Democrat and a Republican usually selected from the House authors and two Senators–a Republican and a Democrat. Since the Conference Committee is for a House Bill, a House Democrat will be named to chair the Conference Committee on HB 1117. It is likely that Rep. Stilwell will be named as the Chairman of the Conference Committee. All four members of the Conference Committee must agree to further changes to the proposed legislation. After all four conferees sign a Conference Committee Report, the bill returns to both the House and the Senate for roll call votes by all members of the Indiana General Assembly. If the members of the Conference Committee cannot reach agreement, conferees may be removed by legislative leadership and they can try again.

At this point, the concept of a Renewable Electricity Standard or RES is still alive but just about anything can happen. Again, the deadline for the 2008 session of the Indiana General Assembly to adjourn is March 14th.

I would strongly urge that you carefully review the language in Chapter 37 on Renewable Energy Development. If you have any questions and/or concerns about what is included or excluded, I strongly urge that you convey your sentiments to Rep. Stilwell, h74@in.gov or stilwell1130@yahoo.com His phone number at the State House is (317) 232-9798 or at home in Boonville on the weekend at (812) 897-1211.

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