Solar bill appears to be in trouble
A controversial bill that critics said would slow or kill the growth of small-scale and home-based solar projects in Indiana appears to be in trouble.
House Bill 1320 is not on the House calendar for today, the last day in the session for legislation to clear the chamber.
The bill sponsored by Rep. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, was approved by a 9-4 vote, along party lines, last week in the House committee on utilities, energy and telecommunications.
That vote came despite testimony opposing the proposal from solar business owners, environmental and consumer advocates, churches and the NAACP. The only person speaking in support of the legislation was the head of the Indiana Energy Association, a utility trade groups behind the bill.
Monday, at least eight of the estimated 100-plus opponents who showed up at last week’s hearing, but were not allowed to testify, filed complaints with House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis. They alleged the committee vice chair violated House rules and at least one GOP member was rude to critics.
HB 1320 would cut the amount that power companies must pay when they buy excess energy generated by home systems and would allow utilities to charge a "user fee" to solar customers to help cover their fixed costs of the power grid. The bill also would set safety standards for system installations and allow for leasing of small-scale systems.
Critics said the changes to Indiana’s existing net metering law would stall or kill the growth in small solar generating systems and give too much oversight authority to the utilities. Supporters said it would make solar even more accessible, safer and eliminate an unfair cost shift to customers without solar.
While the bill could stall if it is not passed out of the House today, that does not mean it is dead, said Jodi Perras, spokeswoman for the Sierra Club.
She explained it still could be called today, even though it is not on the calendar, or the House could suspend rules and call it for a voteWednesday. The key provisions also could be resurrected and added to a bill in the Senate, Perras said.