Utility companies hope a free ride on the power grid could be put to a stop if a proposed piece of legislation is passed in Indiana.
But solar power users are saying ‘don’t take away our sunshine’ and only see darker days ahead.
Senate Bill 309 aims to end a utility credit while also growing renewable energy. Utility companies call the credit unfair. Advocates argue it’s fixing a problem that doesn’t exist.
Mark Hager has been in the solar business for more than a decade. He believes SB 309, sponsored by Republican Brandt Hershman, would dirty the clean energy push being made by Hoosiers every day.
“It’s going to create serious problems for Indiana’s solar industry,” he says.
But state officials and utilities say it’s time to even the playing field and net metering is the key word.
It’s a process that allows solar users at home to pump unused power back into the grid and earn a credit from the power company each month.
With the proposed changes, any extra power generated by solar panels wouldn’t be reimbursed by the utility at an even exchange. Customers would have to sell all the power to the company at a lower rate.
“But only as much as you use,” Hager is quick to point out, “so if you throw any extra on the grid they get to keep it for free.”
State officials say they want to continue to grow the solar industry but do away with average customers subsidizing solar users by staying on the grid. Of course, if you disconnect from the grid and store power in batteries you could avoid this potential change.
According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, utilities say the change is warranted and the extra cash would help maintain the power grid and pay for other expenses.
Utilities say solar users get a free ride on their supply, but Hager just wants the sun to keep shining.
“We need to sit down and figure out a better way to make it feasible for everybody,” he adds.