We’ve all heard the phrase “not in my backyard”; that is one of the challenging refrains we hear when it comes to large-scale utility solar projects.
Hoosiers benefit from large-scale solar because it provides cheap and clean power and feeds the growing demand from corporate job creators who insist on renewable power sources for their businesses.
But Fort Wayne and the counties surrounding Allen have seen their share of vocal opposition to large-scale solar installations.
While utility-scale solar is important in meeting business demands and achieving carbon neutrality, community solar offers additional benefits without the same impact on land.
Community solar utilizes unused spaces and brings the source of power closer to your home so less waste occurs on the grid. Community solar is privately funded, rather than funded by ratepayers, and it brings competition and choice to Hoosiers who otherwise must buy power from a monopoly.
Community solar diffuses power generation, which makes the grid more reliable. When combined with battery technology, community solar makes the grid that much more resilient from “brownouts” and failures.
The Hoosier Environmental Council has partnered with advocates for years to push legislators to enable greater investment in community and rooftop solar and the benefits they bring. Unfortunately, legislation that empowers Hoosiers to make the choice of solar has been repeatedly denied a vote in the Indiana House and Senate.
In fact, Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, introduced Senate Bill 248 to ensure Hoosiers receive fair credit for the electricity they generate through solar, but Sen. Eric Koch, the utilities committee chair, didn’t even allow the bill to be voted on.
Hoosiers who want to introduce competition and choice for their power options should contact their legislators and ask them to allow community solar. Currently, community solar is only allowed if it happens under the control of utility companies. That doesn’t happen very often – and that doesn’t open the door to competition.
As Hoosier Environmental Council’s new executive director, I look forward to working on behalf of Hoosiers to grow clean and efficient power sources such as community solar. If you would like to learn more about community solar, visit the Hoosier Environmental Council website (hecweb.org) and join our email list.
As Indiana legislators consider how to fill the demand for increased renewable power, they should listen to the folks who are saying “Yes, in my backyard” and advocating for community solar in their neighborhoods.
Sam Carpenter is executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council.