There Goes the Sun…(apologies to the Beatles)

A recent article from The Republic, the Columbus, Indiana newspaper, sums up Indiana Senate Bill 309 admirably, in the very first paragraph.

Indiana Senate Bill 309, introduced by Sen. Brandt Herschman, proposes to fundamentally change Indiana’s solar energy policy. The proposed modifications to the state’s net energy metering program are based on a lack of evidence and faulty logic, and would severely undermine the future of solar power in the state. Indiana legislators should oppose this bill.

I have previously blogged about this bill, which is being mischaracterized by its sponsor.

Following the Senate committee hearing at which the measure was approved and sent to the House, the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance (IDEA), accused the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Brandt Hershman, of making statements that were “simply not true” in order to obscure his real intent. In a letter to the committee chair, the IDEA wrote

In fact, some of [Hershman’s] misstatements are so egregious we think they may have unfairly influenced Thursday’s committee vote,” the letter read. “For this reason, we strongly urge the committee not to move forward on its report on SB 309 until these errors can be rectified. We also believe committee members should have a chance to change their vote after they receive the correct information.”

The Republic article states what the bill would actually do.

This change would reduce people’s economic incentives to install solar. The bill also proposes to cap the net metering program to 1 percent of an electricity supplier’s most recent summer peak load, and eliminate net metering altogether in 2027. Collectively, these changes would unnecessarily stunt the development of this clean energy source.

Among the misstatements IDEA accuses Hershman of making are that net-metering goes away when utilities hit 1% of their baseload generation under current Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission rules. IDEA also says Hershman lied when he said that if the 1% net metering caps were met the utilities could go to a “buy all, sell all” mechanism under existing law.

As pv magazine reported last month, SB 309 is a fascinating Trojan Horse of a bill, which purports to support solar while enacting policies that would damage the state’s rooftop solar industry – particularly the residential sector – immediately.

The article in the Columbus Republic summarized the issues involved:

Solar power also offers many additional benefits, particularly for a state like Indiana that relies disproportionately on a single source of fossil fuel energy for electricity generation; about 75% of electricity in Indiana is generated from coal-fired power plants. Solar power is a clean, renewable source that does not result in emissions of pollutants that threaten human health. In addition, studies have shown that net metering programs create thousands of jobs. According to one recent estimate from the Solar Foundation, more than 200,000 people (nearly 1,600 in Indiana) currently work in the solar industry. The net metering policy is especially important for Indiana, since the state lacks other common policy measures to encourage solar energy development.

Over the past several years, the majority of states have conducted solar valuation studies. These studies tend to include direct measures of costs and benefits associated with residential solar. Out of 16 recent solar valuation studies recently written or commissioned by utilities, utility commissions, or independent analysts, all found net positive benefits, and 12 of the 16 found net benefits that exceeded the retail rate of electricity.

Indiana is on a slower path than most other states toward developing cleaner sources of energy. The General Assembly should be looking for ways to hasten the development of solar, wind and other sources of renewable energy, rather than considering policies that impede the state’s transition to a cleaner energy future. Indiana Senate Bill 309 is clearly a step in the wrong direction.

Calling Senate Bill 309 a “Trojan Horse” is an apt description. It’s an effort to disguise the utility-owned  “army” with an innocent-seeming and distracting facade. Its passage would be yet another example of a special interest working with a compliant legislator to protect its bottom line at the expense of the public interest.


  1. “Its passage would be yet another example of a special interest working with a compliant legislator to protect its bottom line at the expense of the public interest.” I think your statement says it all. It’s 100% Hoosier politics.

  2. Let us not underestimate the influence behind this bill that is generated (pardon the pun) by both the coal and the gas industries. Both stand to gain by the State’s elimination of homeowner solar, and neither apparently give a care about the planet or the future of their own children.

  3. Professor Kennedy: “Calling Senate Bill 309 a “Trojan Horse” is an apt description.”

    Aptly put. It’s best to describe the “body politic” of the U.S. NOW under the Bannon machinations and Trump’s bellowing as one big TROJAN HORSE with a lot of LITTLE TROJAN HORSES being delivered every day.

    Being a political veterinarian is where the demand is going to be. Our children and grandchildren need to be advised of this when charting their future plans.

  4. Today’s USA Today section of our local paper said that there are currently 373,807 people in the US employed in the solar power industry as opposed to 187,117 in the fossil fuel industries. I will note that the number does not include workers in other clean power industries. It is doubtful that the coal industry will ever make a comeback. These efforts to protect utility companies are not in the best interests of anyone outside of the utility companies.

  5. I strongly recommend “The Trojan Horse in America” by Martin Dies, Jr. (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1940).

    Martin Dies, Jr. (1900-1972) was a U.S. congressman from the 2nd District of Texas, serving from 1931 to 1945. Dies was the founder of the committee that became the House Committee on Un-American Activities and served as its chair from 1937 to 1944. This release consists of several short files ranging from 1939 to 1972.

  6. Marge,

    You’re probably right about ALEC. The Koch Brothers and their syndicate own the TROJAN HORSE and, indirectly by blood, all of its offsprings.

    It’s a one horse race to the finish line. The only question is how long does it take for the Trojan Horse or one of its offsprings to get there.

  7. Shelia – Marge: Whether ALEC-inspired or not, SB 309 is a step backwards to protect dying industries and poison the environment and, as with many pieces of prosposed legislation these days, the motivation is captured by the phrase “Follow the money.” Legislators who actually represent the public interest as opposed to those who are pretending to represent the public interest should soundly reject this bill. It might help if those opposed were to run clips of Chinese citizens in Beijing who can’t see across the street for the smog, all with their face masks in place, and with prevailing westerly winds, perhaps states such as Ohio should send representatives to testify before the Hoosier legislature since Buckeyes like to breathe, too.

  8. The unreasonable reported usage and bill increases from Indianapolis Power and Light have disappeared from the news…and Facebook. I am and always have been a very frugal regarding power usage; due to the cost involved and I discourage waste in any form. My December bill (for November) was $58 which was normal for me, my January bill (for December) was $78, my February bill (for January) was $90. At that time there were posts on Facebook from people in this area with bills suddenly escalating to $200 and $300 monthly. People who called IPL were told it was due to increased usage caused by the cold weather. This is the same response I received from IPL after sending a lengthy E-mail questioning the increase AND the included notice that IPL has requested a rate hike. Channel 6 looked into the issue and were also told the increases were due to the cold weather. This is the fifth mildest winter weather since record keeping began in 1930. Several days my furnace was turned off due to warm temperatures and it is turned down every night.

    I spoke with neighbors here in Warren Township and received messages from my granddaughter and my son and his family who live in Franklin Township; all had unexplained increases. Spoke with the few people I know in Center Township but they received NO increase in reported usage of their monthly bills. Is it warmer in Center Township? My granddaughter who lives in Carmel also saw an increase. I have read a few news items that this is happening around the country; not only IPL or Indiana.

    Being dissatisfied with the response from IPL; I sent a lengthy letter with copies of last years IPL bill and the most recent bills to the Utility Regulatory Commission. They “are looking into it” and I am still waiting for an answer. If interested in contacting them:

    Utility Regulatory Commission
    101 West Washington Street
    Indianapolis, IN 46204

  9. There are the Trojan Horses, like Herschman’s bill and there is the continuous attacks on the EPA, SEC and other watch dogs, plus public schools concerning red tape and “onerous regulations” that supposedly kill jobs. Never are these onerous regulations ever listed in any detail. The McMega-Media with it’s copy and paste approach never ask the perpetrators of the “onerous regulations” Propaganda to identify the regulations.

    The Trumpet Flash-Bang-Concussion Grenade approach is another method. The latest flash-bang is the Trumpet’s accusation that President Obama ordered various organs of State Security to wire tap him. No proof is offered but the Trumpets dutifully repost the accusation. The Mc-Mega-Media is now spinning in circles over this latest tweet from the Trumpet. The fact that this latest charge by the Trumpet is totally false is meaningless to the Trumpets, they want to believe the false hoods, it fits the narrative. If the result of an investigation is critical of the Trumpet, the Trumpet simply pulls out the card of Liberal Media bias.

  10. Florida rejected a similar bill in the last elect. In the advertising war before the election Florida Power and Light claimed that it was an attempt by outside billionaires (Elon Musk I suppose) to take over the state. I guess instead of inside billionaires like Gov Scott taking over the state.

    Ultilities have always enjoyed their monopolies and would like to go forward without competition.

    The energy revolution threatens that.

  11. The overarching policy of Indiana government is to guarantee profits to the already wealthy. This applies to all fields of endeavor: energy generation, public education, corrections, public works, health care, the environment, food safety, and so forth. If the rhetoric could be believed, Indiana would be one of the best-run, most-efficient, prosperous states in the country with a well educated, highly productive population. Is it? Of course not. Discouraging the private generation of electricity via solar energy is yet another example. I’m so sick of it, that the mere appearance of Brian Bosma’s face gives me dyspepsia.

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