Town overreach Senate bill advances

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   February 19, 2019  /   Posted in Uncategorized, wind  /   No Comments
State Sen. Phil Boots

State Sen. Phil Boots

Town overreach Senate bill advances

The Senate bill that would repeal the authority for a city or town to exercise certain powers outside of its corporate boundaries passed third reading last week. 

Senators approved the bill 39-8 on Thursday. It now goes to the House for consideration.

“All this bill really does is refer to representative government,” said Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville) who authored the bill. “The premise behind the bill is if I don’t get to vote for you or the board that represents me — if I don’t have a say in that board — you shouldn’t be able to tell me what to do with my property and my life, etc.”

Boots introduced the bill after elected officials from Darlington and Alamo adopted ordinances regulating wind farms in an effort to eliminate its development. The ordinances were based on a state law that allowed towns to make such regulations within a four-mile radius of their respective town boundaries if public health, safety and welfare were a concern.

Should the bill become law, the ordinances adopted by Darlington and Alamo would still remain in effect. The bill that passed third reading last week states that the change would not void an ordinance or resolution adopted by a municipality prior to January 1, 2019.

The City of Crawfordsville’s two-mile jurisdictional area for zoning would also remain in effect. The proposed bill would require municipals to gain approval from the county legislative body for comprehensive plans adopted after June 30.

Here is a link to SB 535

Conservative Ohio voters want most of Ohio’s electricity to come from renewable sources

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   February 14, 2019  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Conservative Ohio voters want most of Ohio’s electricity to come from renewable sources

Staff Photographer
Ohio's conservative Republican and independent voters strongly support renewable energy projects like this solar farm built in 2018 on the City of Brooklyn's former landfill. The array uses 35,420 solar panels to generate a maximum of 4 megawatts. The power goes to 16 Cuyahoga County buildings. Built by IGS Energy, the farm is the first-in-state solar farm built on a municipal landfill. (Gus Chan / The Plain Dealer) ORG XMIT: CLE1807121503511037 The Plain Dealer (Gus Chan Gus Chan Gus Chan)

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Ohio’s political conservatives strongly favor renewable energy over coal and especially over nuclear power, a new poll commissioned by the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum has found.

“Conservatives in Ohio are strong supporters of renewable energy, with a clear majority, 70 percent, wanting 50 percent or more of their energy to come from renewable sources,” concluded Jim Hobart, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies, a national polling firm which does research for Republican candidates.

The poll was the third such survey Public Opinion Strategies had done for the the Ohio Conservative Forum. It found growing support for clean energy. And a willingness to pay extra for it.

Conservative Ohio voters “also view renewable energy as a job creator in the state, with low-income conservatives and conservative men being especially likely to say that the increased use of renewables would create jobs in Ohio,” Hobart’s summary of findings points out.

The random telephone survey of 400 conservative Republican and independent voters in January, with a margin of error of 4.9 percent, also sought to determine how conservatives “feel” about various generating technologies and about energy efficiency.

The findings indicate that conservatives are very positive about energy efficiency, natural gas and solar power but less positive about wind energy and coal and the least positive about nuclear energy.

The poll also concluded that conservative Ohioans think property owners should have the right to generate electricity on their property and get paid for it, whether it be wind or solar. More to the point, it found that conservatives would support more reasonable wind turbine property setback rules than the rules adopted without debate by lawmakers in 2014.

“It was not surprising that conservatives view protecting property owners’ rights as very important,” said Tyler Duvelius, executive director of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, in prepared remarks. “Fifty-two percent said protecting property owners’ ability to produce energy on their land was important to them.”

The bottom line, and maybe the most important for Ohio lawmakers who are expected, again, soon to consider bailouts for old coal and nuclear power plants, is that conservative voters are not very supportive of bailouts for old power plants -- nor of politicians who back them.

Instead, they would be more supportive of lawmakers and a governor who supported increased energy efficiency programs and more renewable energy projects.

The survey found that 61 percent of conservative voters oppose special fees to keep old nuclear plants operating. Only 32 percent said they would support such a move.

As for coal, the polling found that 49 percent oppose coal bailouts while 41 percent would support them by paying new monthly fees.

On the flip side, the survey determined that nearly two-thirds of those polled said they would be more supportive of legislation to encourage increased energy efficiency and renewable energy.

“Conservative voters are decidedly more likely to back a state legislative candidate or a governor who backs increased energy efficiency and renewable energy in Ohio. There is no doubt that this issue is a clear political win for candidates up and down the ballot,” the poll analysis concludes.

SB 430 could revive Indiana net metering for solar

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   January 31, 2019  /   Posted in 2019 Indiana General Assembly, Net Metering, solar  /   No Comments

Solar panel installers (L-R) Corey Kimball, Ryan Zaricki and Eli Metzler-Prieb place new panels on the roof of a home on Eau Claire Lane in Newburgh in February 2017. A new Indiana senate bill will reverse a 2017 law that reduced over time the value of privately generated solar power in Indiana.

Solar panel installers (L-R) Corey Kimball, Ryan Zaricki and Eli Metzler-Prieb place new panels on the roof of a home on Eau Claire Lane in Newburgh in February 2017. A new Indiana senate bill will reverse a 2017 law that reduced over time the value of privately generated solar power in Indiana. (Photo: MIKE LAWRENCE / COURIER & PRESS)

This bill could revise a controversial Indiana solar power law

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — A local legislator is backing an Indiana senate bill to require utilities to pay homeowners and others full retail price for solar energy uploaded to the grid.

Republican Sen. Vaneta Becker, Evansville, has signed on as co-sponsor for Senate Bill 430, introduced by J.D. Ford, a first-time Democratic senator representing suburban Indianapolis and Carmel.

If passed, the bill would eliminate the phase out of net metering passed by the General Assembly in 2017. Becker said she didn't agree with that law, Senate Enrolled Act 309, when it was debated at the time.

"I just think we should allow more people to participate (in solar energy)," she said.

Ford said the bill would not repeal Senate Bill 309 but would eliminate its phase out of net metering.

Before 2017, state law allowed Indiana utility customers who installed solar panels to upload the power they did not use to the power grid. Customer bills could then be offset by that same amount for times when they drew power from the grid. The arrangement is called net metering.

Proponents of solar energy argue it was a fair exchange that encouraged more people to install solar panels and recover their costs faster.

However, under the current law utilities are allowed to gradually reduce the rates they compensate customers, ending net metering entirely by 2047. Customers would then have to sell their excess solar power to utilities at wholesale rates but purchase it back at full retail price.

Wendy Bredhold, senior campaign representative covering Indiana and Kentucky for Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, praised Ford and Becker for their willingness to take a second look at the issue:

"For years, the legislature and the governor have allowed the investor-owned utilities to use their political influence to determine Indiana's energy policy, and as a result, we have policy like SEA 309 that is great for utility profits and lousy for everyday Hoosiers. It's past time for Governor Holcomb and the legislature to give us an Indiana energy plan."

Ford said he is motivated partially by the public response to the law when it was passed.

"I've never seen an environmental issue that really rallied folks to come down to the statehouse like that," he said. "It was contentious. I do think it will have a negative impact for our state."

He is hopeful that Sen. James Merritt, who chairs the senate committee on utilities, will give this bill a hearing. Earlier this month, Merritt, a long-time Republican senator from Indianapolis, announced his election bid for mayor of that city.

Ford's bill also would add language doubling the amount of the power generation capacity utilities must set aside for net metering, by increasing it to 3 percent. It would also give more of that 3 percent set aside to non-residential customers.

"Utilities are running out of room for non-residential customers," said Kerwin Olson, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition.

The adjustment would make more room for schools, businesses and churches seeking to add solar power, he said.

"It's a great bill," Olson said.

Second solar project coming to Perry County (IN)

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   January 30, 2019  /   Posted in Indiana Municipal Power Agency (IMPA)  /   No Comments
Second solar project coming to Perry County
Stuart Cassidy, Perry County News Staff WriterTELL CITY – A new solar park in Tell City is in the works. The Indiana Municipal Power Agency announced last week its plans to develop a 3-megawatt station just off of Indiana 237 near Perry County Memorial Hospital.

IMPA expects to close the purchase of 20 acres adjacent to the hospital in coming weeks. The total project is expect to cost about $5.9 million. Construction is expected to take about eight months and employ about 25 construction workers. Ground could break ground as soon as this spring and be operational by early 2020.

IMPA delivers energy to 61 municipalities, including customers in Tell City and Troy. The company’s 20 solar parks in the state generate about 48 mega-watts of power. A smaller IMPA solar project opened in 2014 and generates 1 megawatt.

Tell City Electric Department Dennis Dixon outlined plans to the city works board Tuesday. He said the nearly 12,00 panels would track the sun during the day, maximizing power output.

“It’s about three times the size of the current one we already have in Tell City,” explained Emily Williams, a solar division project manager for Indiana Municipal Power Agency. The interconnect would be with Tell City’s electrical system, so all of the power produced at this facility would stay within Tell City.”

Much planning has already gone into the development by IMPA to help keep costs low.

“We are a nonprofit agency, so we try to build these facilities as economically as possible because it directly impacts our members,” Williams said. “Due to the solar facilities and the other good decisions that our (IMPA) board of commissioners have made throughout our history, we’ve actually been able to reduce our wholesale rates over the last three years, a little over 7 percent.”

She added that long-range goals also aim to keep rates low for the future.

Though a nonprofit institution, Williams said since IMPA is a utility, it does not receive the same tax exemptions. She explained that the company is obligated to make payments in lieu of taxes, and in this case, it would come out to be about $35,000 annually to the county. As such, IMPA is seeking personal- and real-property tax abatements on the land equipment that would be installed at that amount. That request was presented to the county council last Thursday.

A graduated prorating of the abatement – which would see IMPA pay 10 percent the first year – would apply to the $35,000 plus whatever tax is generated from the grounds, which would reportedly benefit about $156,000 over the 10-year tax-deferral period.

Consideration of the abatement is being given by the county council which asked Williams for an independent analysis of the deferrals. She said that wasn’t a decision on her part, and the request would have to be submitted to her company. The council plans to discuss the matter further next month.

Williams touted that while this IMPA development would ultimately be a “silent neighbor,” such projects often work well to generate other economic development. “We see a lot of companies that come in who want local renewable facilities,” she said. “So this helps to grow and retain businesses.”

Editor Vince Luecke contributed to this story.

Copyright 2013 IndianaDG