To the editor:
Senate Bill 309, the controversial solar bill authored by Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, has garnered much deserved attention in recent weeks. The discussion has centered around two questions: (1) whether the bill is anti-solar or pro-solar, and (2) whether the bill will protect consumers or harm them.
Both questions are important, and both have articulate advocates and reasonable people supporting opposite positions. However, the true question at the core of this debate is: who should be able to enjoy the economic benefits associated with the endless energy from the sun? Stated more succinctly, who owns the sunshine in Indiana?
Citizens Action Coalition believes the sunshine belongs to all of us. Everyone, big and small, should be afforded the choice to invest their own money in low-cost solar energy, and the opportunity to be participants in the new energy economy.
This includes businesses, farmers and homeowners seeking to reduce their electric bills and make their goods and services more competitive. Municipalities and schools struggling with reduced revenues now see solar and other renewable energy as an opportunity to redirect scarce resources to their missions of serving the public and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
And yes, “all of us” includes the monopolies charged with the awesome responsibility of keeping the lights on 365/24/7. Citizens Action Coalition applauds the electric utilities in Indiana for their decisions to voluntarily invest millions in utility-scale solar to meet the needs of their customers by providing carbon-free and low-cost electricity, courtesy of the sun.
SB 309 threatens this reality of sharing an abundant and free resource for the benefit of all. The bill is a one-sided approach which effectively shifts the economic benefits of solar energy solely to the monopolies and the monopolies alone, while depriving the public at large, and the marketplace, from reaping the economic benefits of Hoosier sunshine.
SB 309 reduces consumers’ control over their energy costs and reduces competition in the marketplace, which will only stand to drive up costs for everyone and reduce investment and jobs in our state.
Everyone agrees that solar energy is here to stay. As the price of solar has dropped exponentially in recent years, installations and investments in solar are increasing at a rapid pace. Indeed, the solar industry is creating jobs at a rate 12 times faster than the U.S. economy.
Those facts are not in dispute. Solar energy will be a major contributor to the energy mix and the economy for a very long time, if not forever.
But the question asked here is one that the Indiana General Assembly should take very seriously and deal with in a meaningful and thoughtful way. Will our elected officials block the sun from the public and give the monopolies the exclusive right to the value of the sun’s rays?
Or will the legislature recognize what is really at stake here and create rules that are fair for all and which create a competitive playing field where all are invited to the game?
Citizens Action Coalition