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IURC gives consumers more energy options January 10, 2011

Posted by Laura Arnold in Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).
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Editor’s Note: The debate on net metering continues in the Indianapolis Star with the publication of this Op-Ed from Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) member Carolene Mays. Indiana Distributed Energy Advocates (IDEA) participated in each and every opportunity the IURC provided for public input including organizing testimony at public meetings in Indianapolis, Ellettsville and South Bend. IDEA also participated in technical conferences and technical meetings as well as submitting written comments to the IURC.  When most of us were celebrating the holidays with family and friends, the IURC approved the proposed net metering rule on 12/29/2010.

Although the proposed net metering rule is not everything IDEA wanted, it is clearly a huge step forward for renewable energy and distributed generation in Indiana. IDEA applauds both the process undertaken by the IURC and the outcome–namely, the proposed net metering rule. The proposed rule will be published shortly in the Indiana Register with notification of a public hearing and another written comment period.

IDEA urges you to review the proposed rule and to share your thoughts with us. Laura Ann Arnold

by Carolene Mays, Member, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission

January 7, 2011

After reading The Star’s Jan. 4 editorial, “We can’t stand still on energy,” (See http://wp.me/pMRZi-hH) I was saddened that the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission was not given an opportunity to address the steps it took to craft a revised net metering policy. The commission recently approved a rule that stemmed from numerous meetings with utility customers, consumer groups, legislators, the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor and other various stakeholders.

The proposed rule included significant changes. The most considerable one being a 100 percent increase in nameplate capacity, which took the limit from 10 kilowatts to 1 milliwatt. Another change is the inclusion of all customer classes, not just homeowners and K-12 schools. By making the rule more inclusive, businesses and government bodies will be able to take advantage of net metering’s benefits.

Net metering allows participants to supplement their electric usage and offset a portion of their cost through renewable energy derived from resources such as wind turbines or solar panels. This allows customers to receive a credit from their utility company for the excess power they generate.

In an effort to solicit feedback from different areas of the state, the IURC traveled to public meetings in Indianapolis, Ellettsville and South Bend. The public could speak directly to the IURC and offer recommendations on how the rule should be changed. Technical conferences and numerous meetings were also held with interested parties. Additionally, comments were considered from consumers and businesses throughout the state. Based on this information, the IURC expedited the rulemaking process to change the current rule that was established in 2005.

The IURC understands the benefits of this service offering and that there are opportunities to save energy, reduce pollution and promote economic development within the renewable-energy industry.

In fact, the majority of the groups participating in the rulemaking process have stated that the proposed rule is a good compromise and that it addresses the most significant issues raised by the parties.

Based on The Star’s editorial, it appears that the newspaper has chosen not to follow the positive actions taken by the IURC, though frequent news releases and meeting notices have been sent. Rather, it remains critical of all actions, given the recent ethics investigation. While coverage of this adversity has highlighted a problem with a few people who are no longer at the IURC, it is limited in its scope and should not have an adverse effect on decisions that are beneficial to Hoosier consumers and businesses.

As our state continues to incorporate more renewables, the cost of electricity will likely continue to rise; however, societal benefits will be realized. That’s why we pushed forward with a progressive net metering policy that is beneficial to Hoosiers.

Mays is a member of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

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