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Monday, March 09, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "Utilities wage campaign against rooftop solar"

Updating this ILB post from Feb. 22, on HB 1320, which died in the House (Kokomo Tribune, Feb. 27):

House Bill 1320, which aimed to change the way solar panel owners are credited for the energy they produce, was not heard on the House floor Wednesday, the last day for legislation to clear the chamber.

“Nothing is completely dead until the session is over, but it is definitely dead in the House,” said Utilities and Energy Committee Vice Chairman Rep. Heath VanNatter, R-Kokomo, about the controversial bill authored by Rep. Eric Koch, R-Bedford.

The Washington Post had a long story this weekend by Joby Warrick, headed "Utilities wage campaign against rooftop solar" that begins:
Three years ago, the nation’s top utility executives gathered at a Colorado resort to hear warnings about a grave new threat to operators of America’s electric grid: not superstorms or cyberattacks, but rooftop solar panels.

If demand for residential solar continued to soar, traditional utilities could soon face serious problems, from “declining retail sales” and a “loss of customers” to “potential obsolescence,” according to a presentation prepared for the group. “Industry must prepare an action plan to address the challenges,” it said.

The warning, delivered to a private meeting of the utility industry’s main trade association, became a call to arms for electricity providers in nearly every corner of the nation. Three years later, the industry and its fossil-fuel supporters are waging a determined campaign to stop a home-solar insurgency that is rattling the boardrooms of the country’s government-regulated electric monopolies. * * *

Two-and-a-half years later, evidence of the “action plan” envisioned by Edison officials can be seen in states across the country. Legislation to make net metering illegal or more costly has been introduced in nearly two dozen state houses since 2013. Some of the proposals were virtual copies of model legislation drafted two years ago by the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a nonprofit organization with financial ties to billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch.

Most of the bills that have been considered so far have been either rejected or vetoed, with the most-striking defeats coming in Republican strongholds, such as Indiana and Utah. There, anti-solar legislation came under a surprisingly fierce attack from free-market conservatives and even evangelical groups, many of which have installed solar panels on their churches.

“Conservatives support solar — they support it even more than progressives do,” said Bryan Miller, co-chairman of the Alliance for Solar Choice and a vice president of public policy for Sunrun, a California solar provider. “It’s about competition in its most basic form. The idea that you should be forced to buy power from a state-sponsored monopoly and not have an option is about the least conservative thing you can imagine.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 9, 2015 11:31 AM
Posted to Indiana Government