Indiana is going to see a number of large solar farms in several regions of Indiana over the 2020s which, collectively, could have a land footprint the size of Indiana’s state parks. These farms, which will generate new tax revenues for struggling rural counties and create carbon-free electricity, use a lot of groundcover. HEC has been advocating that all such farms be pollinator friendly, for the sake of our wildlife, soil and water conservation, reduced stormwater runoff, and beauty. Such groundcover can be cost-competitive, taking into account both start-up and operating costs, with conventional groundcover approaches — with smart seed mix design.

This issue had great relevance in the 2021 legislative session, as there was a bill, HB 1381, focused on renewable farm siting and design. That bill passed out of the Indiana House and, after a considerable amendment, passed out of the Indiana Senate Utilities Committee and Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee; both the House version of the bill and the Senate versions of the bill take away true local control over groundcover (the land underneath solar farms) from our counties.

HEC was generally supportive of HB 1381, but wanted to see this critical section of the bill – related to pollinator-friendly solar – fixed. Since that fix, despite our direct efforts at engaging the renewable energy industry, was not made, we were not able to proactively encourage our grassroots supporters to support the bill as a whole.  Learn more about our position on this bill.  County opposition (more than 60 of which issued statements in opposition) and Farm Bureau opposition to HB 1381 led to this bill not receiving a vote on the Senate floor, and HB 1381 did not advance this session.