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2021 Consumer, Energy, and Utility Bill Watch List

 

Net Metering:

 

HB1394: Net metering for electricity generation

Authors: Rep. Anthony Cook (R), Rep. Sharon Negele (R), Rep. Donna Schaibley (R)

Status: In the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee

Position: CAC supports this bill

Description: HB1394 will extend net metering by two years until 2024. The bill will also increase the amount of net metering capacity that the utilities must allow to interconnect with their system from 1.5% to 3% of their most recent peak summer load. The bill would authorize any municipality or school system which is a customer of the utility to aggregate up to three of their electric meters to receive the benefit of net metering. For example, a school corporation or a municipal government would be able to have a solar array on a parcel of land and spread the economic benefit of the energy generated among three meters, whether the solar array is on that property or not.

 

SB249: Net metering for electricity generation

Authors: Sen. Ron Alting (R)

Status: In the Senate Utilities Committee

Position: CAC supports this bill

Description: SB249 will extend net metering by two years until 2024 and will increase the amount of net metering capacity that the utilities must allow to interconnect with their system. However, SB249 increases the allowable limit to 5%, rather than the 3% included in HB1394, dramatically increasing the number of Hoosier consumers who will be able to utilize net metering.

 

SB420: Distributed generation

Authors: Sen. Shelli Yoder (D)

Status: In the Senate Utilities Committee

Position: CAC supports this bill

Description: SB420 takes the most holistic approach of the three bills. The bill proposes to extend net metering by five years until 2027. Like SB249, the bill will increase the amount of net metering capacity from 1.5% to 5%. Additionally, the bill would increase the size of a facility eligible for net metering from 1 megawatt to 5 megawatts. Like HB1394, the bill would authorize meter aggregation. However, SB420 allows any customer, not just municipalities and schools, to aggregate up to five of their electric meters, rather than the three meters included in HB1394. Lastly, SB420 has an eye to the future by requiring the IURC to complete a comprehensive value of solar study to create a new tariff to eventually replace net metering which will ensure Hoosier consumers are fairly compensated for the energy they deliver to the grid.

 

 

Bad Bills:

 

HB1191: Local unit power to prohibit utility connection

Authors: Rep. Jim Pressel (R)Rep. Ethan Manning (R), Rep. Ed Soliday (R)

Status: In the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee

Position: CAC opposes this bill

Description: Because of climate change, there is a movement by cities and towns in certain parts of the country to ban natural gas hookups for new construction in order to move away from fossil fuels and to electrify America to enable a shift to 100% renewable energy. While there is no municipality in Indiana talking about this, the intent of this bill is to circumvent the possibility of this happening in Indiana. The reality is that HB1191 only protects monopoly utilities; nothing in this bill protects the rights of private property owners to generate their own energy or lease (or not lease) their land to third parties for energy generation. It does little or nothing to advance renewable energy in Indiana; in fact, it flies in the face of policies designed to mitigate the impact of the existential threat of climate change. HB1191 is short-sighted and forecloses the opportunity to have a meaningful dialogue around long-term policies designed to address climate change and climate justice.

 

SB386: Cost securitization for electric utility assets

Authors: Sen. Eric Koch (R) 

Status: In the Senate Utilities Committee

Position: CAC opposes this bill

Description: Across the country and in Indiana, utilities are finding it cheaper to invest in new renewables than it is to keep operating their current generation assets, most notably their aging coal plants. However, with traditional utility financing, customers often don’t see big savings from cheaper energy –and may instead see their rates spike. Utilizing securitization, or financing capital recovery with a bond repaid in rates, could lower the costs to customers and could also provide needed financial assistance for both communities who will lose tax revenues when these coal plants retire, and the workers who will need help transitioning to new employment. However, the devil is in the details. Securitization is complicated and needs to be done with the interest of the utility, the community, and the consumer in mind. Additionally, this bill is limited to only authorize securitization for one company, Vectren, a CenterPoint Energy Company. Lastly, securitization is a topic for discussion for the next two years as part of the Energy Task Force. CAC is open to the idea of securitization, but we believe that the topic needs a meaningful and thorough discussion before consumers are subjected to a monthly charge on their utility bills, which could be in place for decades.  

 

 

Neutral Bills:

 

HB1220: 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force

Authors: Rep. Ed Soliday (R), Rep. Ethan Manning (R)

Status: In the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee

Position: CAC is neutral on this bill

Description: HB1220 reestablishes the 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force for an additional two years. Topics proposed to be discussed include fairness to all customer classes when establishing utility rates, the need for a statewide energy efficiency program, distributed energy resources, electric vehicles, establishing “green zones or providing assistance to communities in developing local renewable energy resources, and other topics of interest to CAC. However, CAC had some concerns with the process of the first iteration of the Task Force and felt that the Task Force was geared around extending the life of coal plants and giving an oversized voiced to the monied interests and the fossil fuel interests. Read more in the IBJ hereWe support the topics to be discussed but want to ensure that the Task Force is conducted in a fair and transparent way with all interested stakeholders included in the conversation.

 

HB1520: Electric utility reliability adequacy metrics

Authors: Rep. Ed Soliday (R)

Status: In the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee

Position: CAC is neutral about this bill

Description: This bill was the result of a recommendation from the Energy Task Force. The bill requires that the utilities operate and maintain their power plants using “good utility practices”. It requires that the utilities file a report with the IURC detailing the resources that they own and operate, or otherwise procure under contract in the markets, to serve their customers with reliable energy. And the bill empowers the IURC to order the utilities to acquire or construct resources should the IURC determine that the utilities do not have adequate resources to serve their customers. CAC believes that this bill is unnecessary, as it’s the utilities legal obligation to serve the customers, and the bill is redundant, as the utilities are already required to do short-term and long-term planning at the IURC and must meet reliability requirements established by the grid operators and the Federal government. The bill creates additional and unneeded bureaucracy and regulation and may ultimately create unnecessary legislative intrusion into the markets depending on how the bill is implemented and used.

 

 

Good Bills: 

 

HB1291: Energy Efficient Building Design Standard

Authors: Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D)

Status: In the House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee

Position: CAC supports this bill

Description: Requires the fire prevention and building safety commission to adopt, by rule, the most recent edition or the 2013 edition of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers Standard 90.1 for Class 1 structures.

 

HB1469: Coal combustion residuals

Authors: Rep. Pat Boy (D)

Status: In the House Environmental Affairs Committee

Position: CAC supports this bill

Description: Requires that a public hearing be held on the question of the approval or denial of a closure or postclosure plan for a coal combustion residuals surface impoundment. Provides that the public hearing shall be held at a time that will allow for the greatest participation of the community and at a location nearest to the site of the proposed or existing facility. Establishes requirements for the disposal of coal combustion residuals and the closure of a coal combustion residual surface impoundment. Provides that an owner or operator of a coal combustion residuals surface impoundment must develop a transportation plan for the coal combustion residuals.

 

HB1487: Utility customer assistance programs

Authors: Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D)

Position: CAC supports this bill

Description: Amends the statute that authorizes a water or wastewater utility, in the context of a general rate case, to establish a customer assistance program for qualified residential customers, to provide the same authority to energy utilities.

 

SB367: Disposal of coal combustion residuals

Authors: Sen. Karen Tallian (D)

Status: In the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee

Position: CAC supports this bill

Description: Provides that the rules of the environmental rules board may not allow coal combustion residuals produced by the burning of coal to generate electric power (CCR) to be disposed of if, after the disposal:

  • (1) any of the CCR or any portion of the disposal structure, landfill, or impoundment in which the CCR would be disposed of would be within a 500 year flood zone;
  • (2) any portion of the CCR would be in contact with ground water during any portion of the year; or
  • (3) there would be potential for migration of the hazardous constituents of the CCR into the uppermost aquifer.

 

Prohibits IDEM from approving a plan for closure of a disposal facility for CCR located at the site where the CCR were generated if:

  • (1) any portion of the disposal structure, landfill, or impoundment at the site is within a 500 year flood zone;
  • (2) any portion of the CCR disposed of at the site would be in contact with ground water during any portion of the year;
  • (3) there has been documented migration of the hazardous constituents of the CCR into the uppermost aquifer at the site;
  • (4) there is potential for migration of the hazardous constituents of the CCR into the uppermost aquifer at the site; or
  • (5) the impoundment that would be used for disposal of the CCR at the site does not have a liner compliant with federal liner design criteria or is structurally unstable.

 

Requires the IURC to review an electric utility's plan for closure of its CCR surface impoundment and provides that the IURC must require the utility to provide an assessment of the potential cost of remediating ground water contamination resulting from the surface impoundment. Permits the IURC to allow the utility to recover the costs of closing its surface impoundment if the closure plan is in the public interest and the costs of the plan are not excessive.

 

 

Watching:

HB1069: Communications service outages

HB1114: Residential building design elements

HB1148: Electric vehicle charging station tax credits

HB1164: Various utility matters

HB1168: Electric vehicles and advanced technology

HB1287: Water or wastewater service for underserved areas

HB1322: Building and fire safety codes

HB1342: LEED certification of public buildings

HB1348: Assessment of utility grade solar projects

HB1380: Environmental nuisance actions

HB1381: Commercial wind and solar standards and siting

HB1385: Electric vehicle infrastructure pilot programs

HB1404: Water service disconnections

HB1413: Rural broadband fund

HB1414: Barrett Law assessments for broadband development

HB1419: Reporting of stranded electric utility costs

HB1426: Broadband development

HB1449: Broadband development

HB1470: Renewable energy development

HB1500: Property tax exemption of fiber optic cable

HB1522: Broadband development

HB1535: Modification of utility facilities

HB1552: Sewer and storm water fees incurred by tenants

HB1560: Homeowners associations and solar power

SB68: Conservancy district board meetings

SB121: Study of low-carbon and green industries

SB125: Electric vehicle supplemental fee

SB225: Permits for wireless communications facilities

SB264: Broadband capacity infrastructure study

SB272: Pole attachment fees

SB277: Conservancy district board membership

SB282: Rent, utilities, and mortgage assistance

SB348: Wastewater task force

SB349: Sale of municipally owned utility assets

SB352: Broadband development

SB359: Broadband projects

SB377: Broadband development

SB419: Septic systems, wells, and regulated drains

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