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Make net metering, renewable energy an issue

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Energy is one of the major issues environmentalists and lawyers who work with companies concerned about green technology are keeping an eye on during the 2010 Indiana legislative session.

Those include net metering, the concept that those who create energy can get credits from utility companies when they produce more energy than they consume; and the idea of a renewable energy standard, a certain percent of electricity is generated through renewable sources such as wind power, solar power, and biomass.

These issues were highlighted at Conservation Day at the Indiana Statehouse Jan 26. The Indiana Conservation Alliance, a group of more than 30 organizations that focus on environmental issues, hosted the event.

For a renewable energy standard, the alliance suggested Indiana adopts a goal that by 2021, 20 percent of Indiana's electricity be generated by renewable energy.

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.

These goals are not only obtainable, but important for job growth and to put Indiana on the map as a place that embraces green technology and manufacturing, said Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, a member organization of the Indiana Conservation Alliance.

Indiana has also been recognized as a good place for manufacturers of green technology to set up shop, he said.

The Indiana Office of Energy Development reported Feb. 10 that 11 Hoosier companies manufacture wind turbine components, employing 1,000 Indiana workers. That number is expected to jump by at least 500 in 2010.

The office also reported the American Wind Energy Association ranked Indiana second in terms of the growth of wind power in 2009; Indiana was the leading state in 2008.

"Indiana has moved from 50th to 13th among wind-producing states; Indiana wind farms now produce 1,036 MW of electricity per year; each MW of electricity can power between 300 and 500 homes," according to the Office of Energy Development's release.

Attorney Anne Gorham of Lexington, Ky.-based firm Stites & Harbison agreed with Kharbanda about the importance of having a renewable energy standard; the firm also has an office in Jeffersonville, Ind. She has done research about renewable energy standards in states around the country and sympathized with Indiana - Kentucky doesn't have a renewable energy standard either.

Among the reasons both states don't yet have a standard, she said, is both are heavily reliant on coal, which is one reason they have less expensive utility costs than other states.

There is also the likelihood there will eventually be federal legislation that would address renewable energy as a way to deal with climate change, not to mention utility companies that don't see the value - at least not in the short term - in the high costs to build the plants, she said.

Some states, such as Illinois and Pennsylvania, that have implemented renewable energy standards are already taking effective measures to generate renewable energy. States that don't yet have standards might ultimately need to purchase energy from other states, Gorham said.

Kharbanda agreed, adding a benefit of state legislation as opposed to waiting for federal legislation would be the possibility to include language that would encourage the renewable energy to come from Indiana, therefore creating Indiana jobs and keeping more money here as opposed to sending it to other states.

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

Kharbanda said it's difficult to tell what will happen in the 2011 session. If the governor strongly supported it because of his stance supporting the creation of jobs in green technology, or if federal legislation about climate change has significant movement in 2010, he said Indiana legislators might be more likely to pass a renewable energy standard.

However, in this session the legislature will likely pass a bill regarding net metering, which would also encourage individuals and companies to produce their own renewable energy, Kharbanda said.

To explain net metering, Kharbanda 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 pay for only 100 kilowatt hours to make up the difference that month, he said.

Ideally, legislation would include all classes of energy users, including homeowners, and small and large businesses, and would allow for a high cap on the amount of energy or credits for energy those users would get from utility companies.

Three bills that address this are House Bill 1094, SB 97, and SB 313.

HB 1094 passed the House 78-21 Feb. 2 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Utilities and Technology Feb. 8. SB 313 passed the Senate 49 to 1 Feb. 2 and was referred to the House Committee on Commerce, Energy, Technology and Utilities Feb. 8. SB 97 was denied a hearing and died in committee.

"We're much more comfortable with HB 1094, which would allow our net metering policy to in some ways converge with many of the country's leading policies. It opens net metering to all customers. Furthermore, it allows net metering to be opened enough to meet all customers' electric load. Even if a company had a load of 5 megawatt hours, this bill, in theory, would allow a company to be credited up to 5 megawatt hours, he said.

"In contrast, in SB 313, limits are significantly lower, at 200 kilowatt hours. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission could boost those limits, but that's unlikely because the commission tends to be conservative on those issues," he said.

Either way, he added, "both bills would be an improvement over our current policy. We're one of the worst states in the country on this issue."

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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  1. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of Year Report 2014. (page 13) Under the current system many local registering agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the life’s of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernible benefit in terms of community safety. The full report is available online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America. The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. People, including the media and other organizations should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or other people as to the need for these laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. They should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 0.8% (page 30) The full report is available online at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/2014_Outcome_Evaluation_Report_7-6-2015.pdf California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) (page 38) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 1.8% The full report is available online at. http://www.google.com/url?sa= t&source=web&cd=1&ved= 0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F% 2Fwww.cdcr.ca.gov%2FAdult_ Research_Branch%2FResearch_ documents%2FOutcome_ evaluation_Report_2013.pdf&ei= C9dSVePNF8HfoATX-IBo&usg=AFQjCNE9I6ueHz-o2mZUnuxLPTyiRdjDsQ Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05% Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf Once again, These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so. Megan’s law is a failure and is destroying families and their children’s lives and is costing tax payers millions upon millions of dollars. The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

  2. Freedom as granted in the Constitution cannot be summarily disallowed without Due Process. Unable to to to the gym, church, bowling alley? What is this 1984 level nonsense? Congrats to Brian for having the courage to say that this was enough! and Congrats to the ACLU on the win!

  3. America's hyper-phobia about convicted sex offenders must end! Politicians must stop pandering to knee-jerk public hysteria. And the public needs to learn the facts. Research by the California Sex Offender Management Board as shown a recidivism rate for convicted sex offenders of less than 1%. Less than 1%! Furthermore, research shows that by year 17 after their conviction, a convicted sex offender is no more likely to commit a new sex offense than any other member of the public. Put away your torches and pitchforks. Get the facts. Stop hysteria.

  4. He was convicted 23 years ago. How old was he then? He probably was a juvenile. People do stupid things, especially before their brain is fully developed. Why are we continuing to punish him in 2016? If he hasn't re-offended by now, it's very, very unlikely he ever will. He paid for his mistake sufficiently. Let him live his life in peace.

  5. This year, Notre Dame actually enrolled an equal amount of male and female students.

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