Although California is going to be the leader in green energy for years to come, Indiana is making strides to develop its renewable energy infrastructure by offering a slew of incentives to residents, schools, and businesses that make green living more affordable and easier for even the average “Joe 6-pack” to afford.
The biggest player in the green energy race in the state of Indiana is the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) who has been putting into place rules and regulations that are making some serious changes to embrace the green economy.
One of the major changes handed down by the IURC is that the state’s investor-owned utilities (IOU) are required to offer a net-metering program to any property owners that have renewable energy systems. Net metering essentially pays you for the excess energy that you produce by the IOUs buying the kilowatt hours back from you. In the case of solar systems in Indiana, the IOUs are required to buy the energy back from you at the same rate they charge per kilowatt hour. Even though the state’s big three IOUs have voluntarily offered net metering up until the 2004 decision, the regulation of mandatory metering is a huge step in the direction of increased renewable interest.
Another huge incentive offered to renewable savvy residents is the property tax exemption program that was created by the state legislature to encourage residents to invest in the valuable green technology. Under the renewable energy property tax exemption, program home owners and renters are eligible to receive 100 percent property tax exemption for installing renewable energy systems in their home, and have the costs of materials and labor of the upgrade covered by a tax rebate on the next available refund year.
Unfortunately, Indiana currently has no Renewable Energy Standard (RES), and because of that is taking a major hit in the renewable market as compared to neighboring states. Illinois, for example, has adopted a policy that aims at generating 25 percent of the state’s power by renewable means by 2015. Michigan has an RES aimed at 10 percent of their energy coming from renewable sources by 2015, and as a result has seen more than $9 billion in renewable energy investment and is predicting an increase in 9,000 jobs over the next ten years. Because of its lack of a RES, Indiana is falling short in alternative energy investors, manufacturers, and subsequently is losing out on the jobs that would come with them.
All is not lost, however, and groups like Indiana’s Coalition for Renewable Energy and Economic Development (ICREED) have been lobbying to adopt a RES for the state.