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Reduced Power-Bill Break for Solar Panels Goes to Governor's Desk

Environmental groups charge proposal would halt growth of solar energy

INDIANAPOLIS -- Homeowners who use solar power may soon be paying higher bills.

The Senate voted 37-11 to give final approval to a bill reducing the electric-bill credit you receive for generating your own power with solar cells. If you install solar panels before year's end, you keep the current larger credit for 30 years. The bill would grant a grace period of up to 15 years to ratepayers who install solar cells by 2022.

Environmental groups have lobbied a bill they've branded the bill anti-solar, and Indy's Office of Sustainability also urged legislators to kill the bill, saying it would halt new investments in solar energy. Buck Creek Senator Brandt Hershman, the bill's author, says the revised law still rewards people who install solar panels, but says the current system of subsidizing solar energy one home at a time is inefficient. He notes part of your electric bill covers the power grid, even if you're using less power yourself. He says other states have found solar credits create a backlash against solar power from other ratepayers, who have to take on more of the cost of the grid. 

Wadesville Senator Jim Tomes says he opposed the original version of the bill, and says many of his constituents with solar panels pushed him to vote against this version as well. But he says the bill is much improved, and says the 30-year delay is plenty of time to make changes if need be.

It's up to Governor Holcomb to decide whether to sign the bill.

(Photo: Alessandro Terranova/Thinkstock)

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