Both net metering bills in the 2010 session of the Indiana General Assembly passed third reading or final passage in their House of Origin.
SB 313 introduced by Sen. Jim Merritt, Jr. (R-Indianapolis) called down his net metering in the Indiana Senate around 5:20 pm. Sen. Merritt presented a summary of the bill emphasizing that the bill expands net metering to all customer classes. During his comments at the microphone, Merritt said the bill allows utility customers to “produce what you use, use what you produce”.
Sen. Merritt addressed questions from Sen. Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville) about whether there was a 1:1 reduction in a customer’s bill. Sen. Merritt responded that customers buy at retail and put electricity back into the grid at wholesale. Thank goodness the bill as currently drafted doesn’t do that since that is not REAL net metering but rather what some refer to as “net billing”. Sen. Boots also wanted to know “How does the utility recovery its costs?”
Sen. Sue Errington (D-Muncie) and a co-author of SB 313 as well as the author of another net metering bill, SB 97, that never received a committee hearing, spoke in favor of SB 313. Sen. Errington also introduced SB 94 to establish a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) for Indiana which was also denied a committee hearing this session. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in the Republican controlled Indiana Senate. The Senate Republicans hold a 33 member majority compared to the meager 17 Senate Democrats.
“I think we are making progress,” said Sen. Errington. “I am glad we are back at it after last session.”
Sen. Errington referred to a Wall Street Journal article about a recent report entitled Freeing the Grid that evaluates states including Indiana against “best practices” in net metering. Sen. Errington noted that “Indiana got an F”.
She stated that SB 313 was setting the floor for net metering and that it gave the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) the ability to construct the ceiling.
She expressed dismay that there were still some pieces in the bill and that the second reading amendments offered but not adopted would have made the bill even better.
Sen. Errington offered the following reasons to support SB 313:
- Net metering has no cost to the state.
- Consumers who invest in energy systems that net meter will be winners.
- Net metering is good for the economy in terms of manufacturing and installation jobs creation.
- We are all winners with net metering because it lowers the state’s carbon footprint.
SB 313 passed by a vote of 49-0. Sen. Merritt announced that the House sponsors of SB 313 were Reps. Dvorak and Lutz.
Since the House started at the end of their calendar numerically, HB 1094 was handed down for third reading or final passage in the House around 9:26 pm.
Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend) who introduced HB 1094 gave a brief description of the bill and stated that of the 42 states that have net metering Indiana was the most restrictive.
Rep. Wes Culver (R-Goshen) who is a co-author of HB 1094 spoke in favor of the bill. Culver emphasized that net metering was only giving customers credit not a check for excess power they generated. He said there is no RES in this bill. This bill is clean. There are no tax incentives.
Rep. Jack Lutz (R-Anderson) spoke against the bill and explained that he was not afforded an opportunity to offer an amendment to the bill in committee.
“I don’t know why we are exempting those utilities” said Lutz referring to the fact that Rep. Kreg Battles (D-Vincennes) offered amendments in committee to remove both REMC’s and municipal electric utilities from the bill.
The total House floor debate lasted at most 5 minutes. The bill passed by a vote of 78 to 21.
The roll call vote for HB 1094 showing how state representatives voted may be found at http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2010/PDF/Hrollcal/0150.PDF.pdf.
Rep. Dvorak announced that the Senate sponsors for HB 1094 are Sens. Merritt and Errington.
Bills must pass the second house by March 3rd. The 2010 session must adjourn by March 14th.
To better understand the lingo and the state legislative process in Indiana please see this document prepared by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce entitled, How a Bill Becomes a Law.