Speaker kills bill criticized as detrimental to solar usage

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The leader of the Indiana House has killed a bill that critics say would have depressed the use of solar and other alternative energies.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, pulled the bill off the calendar Tuesday, a key deadline for action.

“There are a whole variety of issues that have arisen around it and it just seemed to be a little weighty,” Bosma said.

House Bill 1320, authored by Rep. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, would have established a fixed rate to be paid by all alternative energy users and reduced the amount of credit the utility would give those customers for extra power they produce and put on the grid.

More than 100 Hoosiers – most in opposition to the bill – filled a committee room and an adjacent overflow space last week to testify and listen to discussion on the issue. Opposition crossed party lines, with environmental, business and conservative groups in attendance. But most were turned away without an opportunity to speak.

At least eight of those people wrote to Bosma to complain that they were not given an adequate opportunity to speak, said Jodi Perras, a spokeswoman for the Sierra Club, which opposed the bill.

Those who did testify said the legislation would have discouraged people from buying and installing solar panels because it would become harder to recoup their investment.

But supporters – mostly utilities – said companies are paying retail rates rather than wholesale rates for power produced by customers.

The committee approved the bill despite concerns from a number of lawmakers who said the bill still needed work.

Bosma said Tuesday the legislation wasn’t ready for passage.

“It just didn’t seem like the right time,” Bosma said. “Maybe next year.”

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