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Lawmakers announce bills to provide better access to solar at Renewable Energy Day

By Rebecca Thiele, IPB News | Published on in Environment, Government, Politics
Under a bill proposed by Rep. Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis) homeowner's associations could not ban solar panels in neighborhoods. (Gemma DiCarlo/WVPE)

Renewable energy advocates and some lawmakers say Hoosiers need better access to solar power to have energy independence. That was the takeaway of this year’s Renewable Energy Day at the Indiana Statehouse.

Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington) said Hoosiers should be allowed to decide how they get their energy.

She’s proposed a bill, SB 313, that would require investor-owned utilities to create at least five community solar projects. Community solar allows customers to buy into a solar project and then receive some credits for excess energy it delivers to the grid.

Yoder said this would provide more stable energy prices for lower-income residents and revitalize their communities.

“Lower-income communities can use their newly attained saving toward other expenses, personal savings, or contribute to the economy,” she said.

READ MORE: NAACP urges utilities to buy into community-owned solar

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Rep. Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis) has proposed a bill, HB 1196, that would stop homeowner’s associations from banning solar panels on homes or putting “unreasonable limitations” on solar panels. But homeowner’s associations would have a say in the aesthetics — and Speedy said that could increase property values in neighborhoods with solar.

“The bill helps assure that by having uniform standards and capturing how they’re supposed to look. More and more Hoosiers are liking the looks of solar panels. It’s a beautiful thing,” he said.

Speedy’s bill passed unanimously in a state House committee on Wednesday. Both Yoder and Rep. Anthony Cook (R-Cicero) have also proposed bills regarding Indiana’s net metering law.

Contact reporter Rebecca at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.