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ALL UTILITY CUSTOMERS NEED RENEWABLE ENERGY INCENTIVES March 3, 2009

Posted by Laura Arnold in Uncategorized.
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Indiana renewable energy businesses are encouraged that state lawmakers are addressing incentives to promote renewable energy usage. Two bills moving through the Indiana General Assembly will revise and improve the rules to allow consumers to net meter and provide needed tax incentives.

When consumers install a wind turbine or solar energy system to reduce their electric bill, they need their electric utility to credit them for any excess power they generate or net meter. Allowing a customer’s meter to run backwards or net metering is an important policy to promote distributed generation. Wide adoption of renewable distributed generation will help to clean the air, reduce carbon emissions, create jobs, and support economic growth. Currently in Indiana only residential customers and K-12 schools are allowed to net meter.

The 2008 Edition of Freeing the Grid, a national report on the status of net metering across the Unites States identifies Indiana among the worst in the U.S. The report states that in Indiana “businesses and other commercial or industrial customers are excluded from net metering. Indiana is now the only state in the nation with this limitation.”

“Not requiring utilities to net meter business and industrial customers is counter productive and just crazy,” said Terry Black, Co-owner of Green Way Supply in Indianapolis. “Why are we are the only state that does not have this incentive to attract new industry?” Duke Energy exceeds the rules established by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and does allow small commercial customers but the other Investor Owned Utilities do not permit net metering for businesses.

“Both proposed net metering laws need further improvement,” said Eric Cotton with ECI Wind and Solar in Fairmount. “Neither net metering bill applies to the REMC’s. 22 other states require net metering for rural electric cooperatives.”

“Not including Indiana’s REMC’s in net metering is a travesty for rural Hoosiers,” says Eric Cotton. “Some of the best opportunities for renewable energy are small wind turbines for farmers. Not including REMC’s creates a disincentive for renewable energy systems in rural areas. For an agricultural state like Indiana this just doesn’t make sense.”

SB 300 and HB 1347, if enacted by the Indiana General Assembly would change the net metering rules to permit all customer classes to net meter including business and industrial customers. The bills do differ in the maximum system size for net metering. SB 300 would permit systems up to 100 kW but HB 1347 would allow for systems up to 1 MW. Currently state rules only permit net metering for systems up to 10 kW.

The past two federal Economic Stimulus bills provide incentives for businesses to install solar and renewable energy systems, a 30% investment tax credit or grants covering 30% of the costs of a system. HB 1347 was amended in the Indiana House of Representatives to add a 15% tax credit for renewable energy manufacturing and a 10% tax credit for businesses investing in renewable energy systems.

“Federal incentives encourage long term investment in clean energy technologies, they help reduce operating costs in businesses willing to invest in them and they will improve our air quality which right now stinks,” added Terry Black. “Congress has taken action and now Indiana needs to do the same.”

Green Way Supply and ECI Wind and Solar are both founding members of the Indiana Renewable Energy Association formed last year. For more information about these companies and other Indiana renewable energy companies see www.indianarenew.org.

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