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Make net metering, renewable energy an issue

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Indiana Lawyer Focus


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. Applause, applause, applause ..... but, is this duty to serve the constitutional order not much more incumbent upon the State, whose only aim is to be pure and unadulterated justice, than defense counsel, who is also charged with gaining a result for a client? I agree both are responsible, but it seems to me that the government attorneys bear a burden much heavier than defense counsel .... "“I note, much as we did in Mechling v. State, 16 N.E.3d 1015 (Ind. Ct. App. 2014), trans. denied, that the attorneys representing the State and the defendant are both officers of the court and have a responsibility to correct any obvious errors at the time they are committed."

  2. Do I have to hire an attorney to get co-guardianship of my brother? My father has guardianship and my older sister was his co-guardian until this Dec 2014 when she passed and my father was me to go on as the co-guardian, but funds are limit and we need to get this process taken care of quickly as our fathers health isn't the greatest. So please advise me if there is anyway to do this our self or if it requires a lawyer? Thank you

  3. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  4. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  5. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

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