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Conservation Day highlights energy issues

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A renewable electricity standard and net metering expansion were among the legislative priorities addressed at Conservation Day at the Indiana Statehouse Tuesday. The event was hosted by the Indiana Conservation Alliance, a group of more than 30 organizations that focus on environmental issues. For a renewable electricity standard, the alliance suggested Indiana adopts a goal that by 2021, 20 percent of Indiana's electricity be generated by renewable energy such as wind, solar, and biomass.

So far, every state in the Upper Midwest except Indiana has a renewable energy standard. In Illinois and Minnesota, 25 percent of electricity will come from renewable sources by 2025. In Ohio, 12.5 percent of electricity will come from renewable sources by 2025. In Michigan, the goal is for 10 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2015.

Senate Bill 94 addresses this issue and would call for 20 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2021, but that bill has stalled in the Committee on Utilities & Technology with no movement since early January.

The other energy issue, net metering, is when a business or homeowner generates more energy than they need and some of the energy is pushed back into the grid. Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, used the example of a homeowner who has a solar panel that generates electricity for his home. If the solar panel generates 1,200 kilowatt hours in August, but the home only uses 1,000 of those kilowatt hours, the homeowner would ideally get a credit of 200 hours from the utility company if there was a statute for net metering. So when the solar panel generates 500 kilowatt hours in September, and the home uses 800 kilowatt hours, the owner will be able to use the 200 kilowatt hours in credit and only need to pay for 100 kilowatt hours for that month to make up the difference, he said. Two bills that address this are House Bill 1094 and Senate Bill 97.


The alliance supports HB 1094 and SB 97, Kharbanda said. HB 1094 passed out of committee Monday; SB 97 was denied a hearing in committee. The alliance does not support another net metering bill, Senate Bill 313 in its current form, but would support it if it was more like HB 1094. SB 313 had a second reading in the Senate Thursday. Other legislative priorities specifically for the Hoosier Environmental Council in 2010 include industrial livestock operations, forest protection, and sustainable cities. Conservation Day also addressed the reauthorization of the Lakes Management Workgroup and the discussion of creating a study to determine the effects of phosphorus in lawn fertilizers.

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