(This piece was originally published on February 16, 2017 on WTHITV.com.)
INDIANAPOLIS (WLFI) — A controversial solar energy bill passed through the Indiana Senate Utilities Committee Thursday.
State Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Tippecanoe County) was in the hot seat as senators challenged his bill that would eventually end net metering in the state.
Net metering is an incentive to use solar panel energy in your home, school or company. It allows individuals to use solar power energy and sell remaining energy for what Sen. Hershman calls “an unfair rate.”
He said currently net metering subsidies are at 300 percent. Hershman wants to decrease it down to 25 percent over a period of time.
Senate Bill 309 passed on a vote of 8-2. But only with an amendment, giving people five years to install solar power and then a subsequent 10 years in which they could use net metering.
Opponents say legislators aren’t qualified to set rates and the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission should study the issue and come up with a fair rate.
Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, agrees the most constructive way to move forward is for the IURC to do a study that assesses the benefits and costs of solar energy. She said they can then offer recommendations on changes needed to policies.
“SB 309, if adopted into law, may well have long-term impacts in terms of deterring investment in solar energy by both homegrown entrepreneurs and those who may otherwise see Indiana as a promising investment destination for solar,” Kharbanda said.
Hershman said though, most of the opposition is out of state.
However, News 18 spoke with someone from the Hoosier Environmental Council who opposes the bill.