Advocates Say Distributed Energy Needs To Be Part Of The State's Energy Plan

Sep 16, 2020

A booth at the at the 2020 Renewable Energy Day at the Indiana Statehouse in January.
Credit Rebecca Thiele / IPB News

More than a dozen environmental groups say distributed energy — smaller, localized energy sources and storage like rooftop solar — need to be a part of the state’s energy plan.

They sent a letter to co-chairs of the state’s 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force last week, asking them to discuss the topic at its upcoming meetings. 

Among other things, the letter said more rooftop solar means cleaner air, a more resilient energy grid, and more jobs in Indiana. Laura Ann Arnold is the president of the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance.

“There are a number of solar businesses that contribute to economic development in the state, hire employees, have payroll — and we thought it would be important to have that perspective presented,” she said.

The letter said Indiana has passed policies that slow the growth of rooftop solar. More than half of Hoosiers surveyed by Indiana University said they would like to have solar panels on their home.

Dori Chandler is with Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light — a group that helps faith communities acquire solar panels to make their buildings more resilient to climate change.

“As we have greater burdens from flooding and migration, distributed energy can help us maintain those as places for refuge," she said.

Chandler said Indiana has one of the highest rooftop solar adoption rates for faith communities across the country and those numbers are growing. She said it helps them keep their bills stable as utilities raise rates.

Though no public testimony will be allowed during the meetings, Soliday said stakeholders like the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance and Hoosier Interfaith Power & Light would be able to give input on the meeting on Nov. 12.

During the task force’s meeting on Thursday, Soliday said distributed energy resources often make up only a very small part of generation and that the task force doesn’t have time to discuss it. He said it will likely come up after the task force has concluded its work — possibly in a summer study committee.

This story has been updated. 

Contact reporter Rebecca at rthiele@iu.edu 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.