Letter: Proposed bill hurts small-scale renewable energy effort

From: Cathy Caldie


Rooftop solar is a great economic and environmental benefit to Indiana by providing jobs, conserving energy and giving Hoosiers freedom to generate their own electricity. Using clean energy also helps protect our health, as fossil fuels are known to be the cause in making Indiana one of the top states for respiratory problems.

Indiana House Bill 1320 proposes some changes to the law, which will negatively affect Hoosiers. It would penalize homeowners and nonprofit organizations that want to install renewable energy equipment by raising costs and taking away energy choices. My family and a few others within Bartholomew County use solar panels to supplement our electrical use. I believe that the economic benefits of solar power should be available to everyone.

According to a Purdue Energy Center website, “The Solar Initiative has the fundamental knowledge and technical skill to enable a successful transition to economically and environmentally friendly solar power.” As a state, we should be embracing solar technology and finding ways to have it grow in order to bring the latest technologies to the free market and allow everyone to benefit.

If HB 1320 were to become law, monopoly utilities and big business would be free to invest in solar and wind energy, of which they expect a fair return on their investment, but not individual homeowners like me. It will hurt the little guy. Duke Energy and other utilities are pushing HB 1320 because they are afraid of competition.

A statement from HB 1320 showing its unfair influence from electric companies is: “The commission may authorize the electricity supplier to establish and impose a fixed charge to avoid, reduce or eliminate a subsidy to customers of the electricity supplier that use distributed generation.” Duke and other utility companies already impose a fixed charge on a monthly basis so all are paying our fair share. Independent studies by regulators in other states show that solar energy is a benefit to all ratepayers.

Rooftop solar and small scale renewable energy protect Hoosier families from the need for expensive new coal or gas-fired power plants. They help balance demand because solar puts electricity back into the grid at peak times.

Our Indiana legislators should be supporting Hoosiers who have taken responsibility for their own energy and those who want to do so in the future. Is the profit of power companies more important than the fair treatment of homeowners and reducing pollution? Hoosiers should have the right in a free market to reduce our dependence on power without being penalized. Urge your legislators to vote no on HB 1320.