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Indiana resists call for renewable energy mandates

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Unlike most other states, Indiana has resisted developing renewable energy standards, leaving the state at a disadvantage for new business investment, critics say.

The state is one of only 14 nationwide without a renewable energy standard, according to the Pew Center of Global Climate Change. The standards typically require electric utilities to generate a certain amount of electricity from renewable or alternative energy sources by a given date.

Indiana lawmakers have considered renewable energy standards the past four years but have failed to pass a bill. The measure failed last year because of concerns that electricity rates would increase and one senator's desire to include nuclear energy among renewables.

Michael Shore, spokesman for the Michigan Economic Development Corp., said he thinks such standards are a key step for states in attracting businesses.

"The renewable energy standard by itself is only a first step. It's like a high school diploma or GED. You're not ready to be a professional in any field, but you can't realistically get there, or easily get there, without it," he said.

In 2008, Michigan passed a law requiring utilities to get 10 percent of their energy from renewable sources and energy efficiency by 2015. Last year, the state supplemented the standard with tax credits for renewable energy development.

Other states have even higher standards. Illinois in 2007 adopted a standard calling for 25 percent of energy from renewables by 2025, 75 percent of it from wind. Ohio requires 25 percent of all electricity sold in 2025 to come from alternative energy, including clean coal.

Shore said Michigan's move has helped the state attract more than $9 billion in investments in alternative energy.

"That $9 billion is projected to create more than 9,000 jobs over the next 10 years. We've gotten significant new investments in solar-energy manufacturing, wind energy, biofuels as well as advanced battery. Those are the green, sustainable energy sectors we've targeted," he said.

Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, said concerns that electricity rates will increase if utilities have to get a certain percentage of their energy from more costly renewable sources can be addressed.

"It's a valid concern for people in a bad economy to be worried about rate increases, but we're willing to put a cap on it," he said. "Rates would not increase more than, say, 5 percent compared to business as usual."

Bryant Mitol, a Valparaiso resident who works for Earth Solar Technologies of Indianapolis, said states like Illinois have gotten a big boost from the renewable energy standards. "They're serious about it," he said.

"Here, the powers that be are still pushing for coal. In Ohio and Illinois, they're making great strides, but here we are in Indiana. I think the coal lobby is just really, really strong here."

Indiana has attracted major wind projects, such as BP's wind farm in Benton County, without the renewable energy standards. But Kharbanda says that's misleading.

"The governor and other politicians will talk about the investment coming into our state without the renewable energy standard," he said. "The problem with that argument is, the investments have been driven by the RES. They've either been driven by RES in other states, which Indiana wind is tapped to comply with, or they view it as an incremental tool. They'll sort of lead legislators to inaccurately conclude there's no need for a renewable energy standard.

"In the scheme of things, wind farms like BP are very impressive, but they only lead to 1 to 2 percent of our electricity use."

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  • Non REPS States
    Here is a list of states without a renewable energy portfolio standard as of 2009 from the US Department of Energy:
    http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/states/maps/renewable_portfolio_states.cfm#map
  • No jobs for YOU!
    I am currently rennovating a building which is over a century old into a showplace for small scale renewable energy resources. The goal is to make the carbon footprint zero or less. The economics are there and I expect to create jobs in the not too distant future. But none of them will be in Indiana. Why should I help a state that won't even give my business a level playing field?
  • Fiscal Responsible
    Public Private Partnerships cost 1/4 of all the Out Growth and the over expenditures necessary to artificially hold up this area up our economy while our existing cities and Country crumble. This republican government continues to create more out growth, equaling more mass area to cover, more expenditure, and more area to have, Bigger Government.
    This State continues to fight so hard to ensure that this is the norm! We need change! Republicans that are republican, the ones able to do the math and lead us into the future, long term sustainability NOW!
    Rebuilding our communities with Mixed Use, Smart Growth, with Energy Use, less overall expenditures, is created by our City and State putting together fund able bank packages, so that we can clean up our dilapidated communities, City and State, creating Places People Want To Be.
    If our City & State continues to miss imperative opportunities to turn key impactful Smart Growth by design, our people, City and State will continue to have even more Brain Drain, and more economic implosions like they have never seen.
    We need Indianoplace to start having actions, doing what it is messaging that it needs to do, Create 21 Century Economy via Smart Growth Public Private Partnerships, in the center of ââ?¬Å?Ourââ?¬Â? communities. It starts with our Mayors doing what they need to do NOW, leveraging the TIFFS along our neighborhood corridors to leverage more States money, spending in smarter more impactful ways!
  • Tell them the future is now
    Tell the people holding us back that the future is now. Quit with the obstruction and outdated thinking.
  • The Future is Now
    Indiana has excellent Brain power in business, industry, and academia. (The ones in academia are paid with tax dollars that come from you and me.) Let's put them to work with an eye to the future of a strong economy and jobs for its graduates and citizens. Yes, IN has coal, but technology has moved past coal and will move past oil and the future is in renewable and nuclear energy.
  • Missing Details?
    Couple things I would have liked to know, what are the other 13 states w/out a RES? Speaking favorable about the Illinois and Michigan economic development climate being so superior to IN - might want to do a little fact checking there. The tax load and state budget crisis in Illinois are very troubling for business people. Michigan is just plain decimated and has been for 20 plus years. Also the article does not say whether Illinois or Michigan have any economically viable (yes!) paln to meet their future pre-picked numbers for renewable energy generation - good luck on that. When was the last time the gov't predicted future anything accurately? Letting the market determine what energy sources is the only "fair" way to every achieve meaningful results.

    Government bureaucrats coming up with some number for 2015 or 2025 RES can not be counted as serious - sorry.....

    As long as the government is supposedly helping us be more "green" you can count on only one thing - we will have less green ($'s) for ourselves.
    • Foreshadow
      I am continuously amazed or should I say disgusted by the death grip that corporate interests have in our state. Indiana used to be a place of prosperity and security. Unfortunately we are jeopardizing the health and welfare of our citizens as well as future economic development by allowing our legislators to sell their vote to their corporate masters. The economic state of our country and moreover the world I believe is an event which foreshadows the future we are soon to realize. This future is bent on corporate interests resisting the change to the new, green economy. Unfortunately Indiana is failing to realize that the old economy and their corporate masters are in the final death throws and that by creating legislation such as renewable energy mandates we can spur new business, new jobs and a new future.

      I am with the person who commented previously and mentioned the brain drain and how actions such as this are merely exacerbating the outflow of highly educated Indiana residents to other states or countries.

      This is the main reason why I am looking for jobs elsewhere also.

    • Indiana used to be engineering state
      Indiana has a huge higher education platform in the form of multiple major universities. While their performance is noticeable in medical and military industries, their performance in new energy is seriously lacking. The push by state's business special interests are throwing stones into other well oiled academic engine, pushing the old technology and sources rather than new emerging ones. Now they want to get subsidies for developing their own obsolete forms of energy generation, all the while enjoying the lowest costs in the nation. No one wants to see higher utility prices, but since we already enjoy the lowest ones in the nation we should be willing to invest in the environment, because we can clearly afford it.
    • Always a follower
      My whole life I have been waiting for Indiana to turn the corner and become a state with an eye to the future. I used to believe that the younger generations would have an impact and the state would become a quickly growing national leader in business, education, energy, transit, etc. I am sad that I no longer believe that Indiana can change fast enough to become what it needs to be to live up to the standards of future generations of highly educated workers.

      Even worse, I am slowly coming to realize that Indiana is no longer where I want to call home; it will never be what I want it to be. There are too many people who resist the future instead of embrace it. There are too many people here who are nostalgic for an era that is never coming back, who are too stubborn to realize that all their resistance will only put future generations at a disadvantage.

      I used to think that the "brain drain" would turn around because Indiana had so much potential. As soon as I finish my masters I am out of here.

      Wake up before it's too late.

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