Sens. Gard, Hershman and Merritt: This bill –SB 251–offers the right energy policy for state

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   March 01, 2011  /   Posted in 2011 Indiana General Assembly  /   No Comments

Editor's Note: I strongly urge that you click the link below to read and study SB 251 and determine for yourself  if  "this bill offers the right energy policy for [the] state" of Indiana. Without getting into all the details, I would merely like to offer this observation from data collected and reported by the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE).

DSIRE' s Quantitative RPS Data Project provides quantitative information about state renewables portfolio standards (RPS). In the RPS Data Spreadsheet, state requirements are defined by year and by resource class and include other key data elements such as monetary penalties or alternative compliance payments, eligibility of new and/or existing facilities, the percentage of the state's electric load covered by the policy, comments to clarify data entries or assumptions, and an update memo to describe recent changes to the data.

Let's set aside the issue of a mandatory vs. a voluntary goal for the state of Indiana. SB 251 establishes an anemic goal for so-called clean energy technologies which includes both clean coal and nuclear power. This data provides information on the Voluntary RPS Goals adopted by various states:

North Dakota: 10% by 2015

Oklahoma: 15% by 2015

South Dakota: 10% by 2015

Utah: 20% by 2015

Vermont: 20% by 2015

Virginia: 15% of base year (2007) sales by 2025

West Virginia: 25% by 2025

Now compare this to the voluntary goal established for Indiana's electric utilities in SB 251 of 10% by 2025.

This blog will report on additional analysis of SB 251 in the coming weeks.

What do you think?

Laura Ann Arnold

Among his many bold visions for Indiana, Gov. Mitch Daniels advocates a first-ever comprehensive energy policy for Hoosiers. Daniels' objectives -- clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy sources making our state more self-sufficient and economically competitive -- are worthy of legislators' time and talent. The Indiana General Assembly can help achieve these goals for consumers by supporting Senate Bill 251.

Producing and distributing energy are increasingly linked to environmental considerations. Energy costs are growing concerns for business investors and employers. Decisions we make as a state will greatly impact Indiana's competitiveness to retain and attract jobs. So, these same decisions will impact the quality of life and cost of living for generations of Hoosiers.

Fortunately for us, 36 other states currently have more expensive utility rates than Indiana. In fact, energy here is more affordable for homeowners and employers than in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio with which we compete for jobs and skilled workers every day.

So the looming questions become how we continue to promote job growth, protect our environment and remain a lower-cost energy state.

As lawmakers, we are approached from all sides of the energy debate. Be assured, there is no shortage of opinions. Some say Indiana should abandon coal -- even clean coal -- as a principal fuel source and resort almost exclusively to renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydro. Others tell us renewables are unreliable, too costly and inappropriate for large commercial consumers. Still others suggest the best answer is to promote the development of safe nuclear power. They are convinced it's clean, dependable and, while expensive to build, remains the most cost-effective power source for the future.

We've listened to these disparate opinions and have concluded that a good public policy lies somewhere in the center and not at the polar extremes. That's why we're offering SB 251.

Our legislation encourages major investments to improve the environmental quality of generating facilities in Indiana -- as opposed to taking those investments and jobs to other states. The bill rightly contains pay-as-you-go provisions to attract investment, create jobs and safeguard the environment by avoiding cost cutting on safety measures.

SB 251 recognizes and references the important roles of clean energy resources. Our bill encourages utilities to ramp up on renewable energy yet it avoids imposing government mandates like high-energy-cost states have unwisely done. Rather than dictating a one-size-fits-all solution, utilities can select from a menu of options to develop the best strategy for their customers, geographic area and investors.

No one special interest group or lobbyist is entirely happy with our bill and the policies it reflects. But that's OK. Sometimes that's the best signal that we, as citizen legislators, have achieved a balance among competing interests. After all, our goal is to enact long-term energy strategies that best serve the interests of Hoosiers.

Gard, R-Greenfield, is chair of the Indiana Senate Committee on Energy and Environmental Affairs. Hershman, R-Lafayette, is majority whip and chair of the Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy. Merritt, R-Indianapolis, is Senate Majority Caucus chair and chair of the Committee on Utilities and Technology.

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