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Indianapolis Star: “We can’t stand still on energy” January 6, 2011

Posted by Laura Arnold in 2011 Indiana General Assembly, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Net Metering, Uncategorized.
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Editor’s Note:  Here is the editorial from the Indianapolis Star on Jan. 4, 2011. So far, Governor Daniels and state legislative leaders have not put energy–specifically, supporting renewable energy and distributed generation–on their list of priorities for the 2011 session of the Indiana General Assembly. I urge you to call, write or visit your state legislators and tell them that advocating sound renewable energy and distributed generation development policy is good for business, good for consumers, good for jobs AND, therefore,  good for the State of Indiana.

I have also created a new page on this blog to help readers keep track of information about the Indiana General Assembly. Please visit https://indianadg.wordpress.com/indiana-general-assembly/. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know how I can make this information easier for you to understand and to take action. OK?  I also need your help. Please send me information about upcoming Third House, Meet Your Legislator, Town Hall meetings and other events scheduled in your community for citizens to meet with state legislators during the session.

Laura Ann Arnold, Laura.Arnold@indianaDG.org, (317) 635-1701

Green energy — meaning both conservation and alternative sources — is expected to take a back seat to another green concern — finances — in this year’s Indiana General Assembly session.

It’s a false dichotomy. Substantial economic benefits, immediate as well as long term, can be realized through some relatively simple energy-related steps that many competing states already have taken.

Legislative leaders, along with Gov. Mitch Daniels, are focusing on a handful of inarguably paramount issues, especially the budget crisis, to the exclusion of concerns that have commanded considerable attention in recent sessions.

One is expansion of net metering, through which owners of wind turbines and other renewable power systems get credit from utilities for excess power they generate. That has proved a boon for green energy business development, in Indiana but more so in other states.

Right now in the Hoosier state, only homeowners and K-12 schools are eligible, and they’re limited to 10 kilowatts. Efforts to allow more users and to dramatically raise the cap passed the Indiana House as recently as last year, but couldn’t be reconciled with more modest Senate levels.

This year, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has taken up the task, drafting a proposal that tentatively expands net metering. But it doesn’t go nearly far enough, in the opinion of state Rep. Ryan Dvorak, D-South Bend, the leader of the net-metering push until his party lost its House majority in November.

The legislature can tweak the proposal, which is not yet finalized. It should, particularly given the IURC’s credibility problems. Dvorak is not optimistic about improvement, however; nor is he hopeful on another front.

The legislature thus far has failed to adopt a renewable energy standard — a minimum portion of power utilities must generate from sources other than fossil fuels — as many states, again, have done.

“We’ve lost out on major wind projects lately and will continue to do so,” Dvorak says. “We’re throwing economic development opportunities out the window.”

Even if they would not go so far as Dvorak wishes, Republicans know Indiana is well placed to reap the rewards of expanded net metering and a realistic renewable energy standard. They also know they can’t plausibly punt the ball to the scandal-wracked IURC. Nor can they ignore the fact that coal, while still the dominant fuel for Indiana electricity, has become too expensive to be afforded a near-monopoly while new sources generate jobs Hoosiers could be holding.

Original article: http://www.indystar.com/article/20110104/OPINION08/101040311/We-can-t-stand-still-energy?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Opinion|s

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