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Split Senate Leads To Death Of Controversial Wind, Solar Bill

FILE PHOTO: Steve Burns

A controversial bill that aimed to standardize where wind and solar farms could be located in the state was withdrawn in the state Senate on Tuesday. Despite a lot of changes to HB 1381, sponsors didn’t feel they could get the votes needed to pass it.

The idea was to make it easier for renewable energy companies to invest in Indiana. Right now the state is a patchwork of different local ordinances — some counties have banned wind farms altogether.

When county leaders opposed the bill, it was changed so that those who had more restrictive ordinances could keep them. Lawmakers also offered counties the option to have special renewable energy districts.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper), expressed his frustration that lawmakers still couldn’t agree on the bill before withdrawing it.

“It’s like having a hostage crisis negotiation going along. You give the captor everything they want and then they shoot the person at the end of the ordeal anyway," he said.

READ MORE: Amendment Strikes Compromise Between Wind Companies And Indiana Counties

Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington) opposed the bill in committee saying he wishes it would have included renewable energy sources too — like nuclear and biomass. Zay said the Senate was very divided on the bill and some senators still felt a lot of pressure from counties who opposed it.

“I think at the end of day to have kind of a blanket policy for the state, and how that would roll out, just became a challenge," he said.

Even though the bill on wind and solar farm siting failed, another bill that aims to standardize some taxes for wind and solar passed the Senate.

Contact reporter Rebecca at or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.

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