President Obama and Vice President Biden announced yesterday that the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (USDOT) is awarding $8 billion, funded from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), to states across the country to develop America’s first nationwide program of high-speed intercity passenger rail service.
Indiana will receive $71 million as part of the corridor connecting Chicago and Detroit. A major investment will be made on the most congested and delay-prone corridor in the entire country, between Porter, IN and Chicago, increasing service reliability and reducing train delay times by 24 percent.
Today the U.S. Dept. of Energy approved $6.1 million for Indiana’s Energy Star Appliance Rebate program. The program, which will launch on February 1, 2010, is part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding that is being administered by the Indiana Office of Energy Development (OED).
It will provide Hoosier homeowners with up to a $500.00 rebate when they purchase an Energy Star rated Furnace or Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) system. The rebate could be as high as $1,000.00 if a Geothermal Heat Pump is purchased.
Indiana Senate Democrats were blocked by Republicans in a series of amendments on Senate Bill 313 to improve Indiana’s net metering policy.
Net metering regulations allow homeowners and businesses to generate their own electricity and roll their meters backward when they send any excess power back onto the electric grid. Net metering allows anyone to participate in the energy economy while helping ensure a more reliable electric distribution system.
State Senator Jean Breaux of Indianapolis proposed an amendment to limit the size of net metering systems for utility customers who generate some of their own power through solar, wind or other means.
“Net metering is intended to promote small renewable energy systems for homeowners, farmers, office buildings, schools, and city and county governments,” said Breaux. “This amendment would make sure that customers are constructing their renewable energy systems for their own estimated annual use and not for profit.”
Listen to Senator Breaux’s comments from the Senate floor:
State Sentator Sue Errington of Muncie proposed an amendment to allow for monthly rollover of credit for excess generation on a rolling annual basis rather than on a monthly basis as the original bill language dictates. Monthly rollover allows the customer to receive year-round benefit from their generation system providing a better return on investment and quicker pay-back to consumers.
“We must make net metering work for consumers by enabling them to get a fair return on the energy they produce,” said Errington. “This amendment encourages the installation of renewable energy equipment and saves consumers money by crediting them for the energy they create.”
Listen to Senator Errington’s comments from the Senate floor:
State Senator John Broden of South Bend proposed an amendment that provides that a single customer whose energy consumption is recorded on more than one meter may be credited the full amount on one electric bill. This would benefit businesses, farmers and local government units that have multiple buildings or facilities, each with their own meter.
The amendments would encourage clean energy production by schools, businesses and homeowners. All three amendments failed.
What is net metering?
Net metering allows for the measurement of both the usage and production of electricity. Small-scale renewable energy production has grown in popularity through the use of modern wind mills, high efficiency solar panels, and other mechanisms. The practice can reduce the demand from power plants and increase the amount of alternative energy available on the utility grid.
Where does Indiana stand?
42 other states have adopted a net metering policy. Indiana, however, has one of the lowest individual system capacity limits (see map). Indiana’s current net metering policy received an F from The Network for New Energy Choices, a national energy policy organization.
Tax credits for homegrown energy:
Indiana offers state property tax exemptions for the installation of geothermal technologies. For more information please contact Donna Palmer with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management at 317-233-0478.
Senator Breaux discusses upcoming legislation including Senate Bill 387 which establishes the office of minority health within the state department of health and Senate Bill 389 which requires a caseworker of a foster child to provide information to the child concerning individual development accounts.
This evening in the Senate, State Senator Karen Tallian introduced an amendment that would require preference be given to Indiana produced steel for the construction of the proposed Illiana Expressway. The amendment was defeated by a partisan vote of 32 to 17. Tallian said she offered the amendment in support of Indiana’s steelworkers and steel industry.
Senator Tallian introduced her plan as an amendment to Senate Bill 382, a measure that would allow the Illiana Expressway to be built as a toll road. The proposed highway would connect I-65 in Indiana to I-57 in Illinois, providing an alternative east-west route in Northwestern Indiana and reducing traffic congestion on the I-80/I-94 Borman Expressway.
Listen to Senator Tallian’s comments from the Senate floor:
Today also marked the sixth annual Conservation Day at the Statehouse sponsored by the Indiana Conservation Alliance. Hoosiers from across the state visited the Statehouse to learn more about conservation organizations in Indiana and to meet with legislators to discuss the importance of protecting Indiana’s natural resources and preserving our environment.
Senate Democrats have proposed a variety of legislation focused on protecting our environment and investing in a sustainable future including:
Senate Bill (SB) 94: Establish a Renewable Energy Standard for Indiana, requiring 20% of electricity supplied in Indiana to be supplied from renewable energy resources by the end of 2021. SB 94 would significantly reduce Indiana’s carbon footprint, as well as bolster Indiana’s energy independence.
SB 97: Expands access to net metering for utilities customers who generate some of their own power through solar, wind or other means. Net metering charges customers only for the power they use from the utility, and subtracts the amount of self-generated power from their monthly bill. Currently, Indiana only allows homeowners and schools to use net metering, and limits them to 10 kilowatts. The bill would expand net metering access to businesses and increase kilowatt limit.
SB 374: Establishes four demonstration grants to encourage energy efficient construction or rehabilitation of a public school or university building using money available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
SB 234: Prohibits transfers from the Indiana Recycling Promotion and Assistance Fund to any other fund, protecting these funds for recycling efforts and sustainable business growth.
SB 194: Encourages the expansion of Indiana’s local and organic food production by informing policy makers of impact and findings of ongoing work to expand and modernize those sectors of the state’s agriculture industry. Local and organic food networks create sustainable communities and healthy environmental practices.