Legislative Pulse: Net-Metering Reform and Other Indiana Energy Issues

Published March 13, 2017

Editor’s Note: Five-term Indiana state Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Rensselaer) is the majority floor leader, chair of the Joint Rules Committee and the Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, and a member of the Appropriations Committee and the Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee.

Burnett: Senator, you’ve authored a bill that would change the way distributed electric power generation is treated in the state, including altering the net-metering rate utilities must pay. What does the bill do, and what was your motivation for offering it?

Hershman: As alternative energy generation becomes more widespread and efficient, existing policy limits the number of people who can self-generate power and pays the limited number of people who do participate an unnecessarily large subsidy of more than 300 percent of wholesale rates. As alternative energy becomes more competitive with traditional sources of generation, the current policy is unsustainable and unfair. My bill will promote alternative energy but do so in a way that does not distort markets and increase consumers’ electric bills.

Burnett: Indiana joined other states in suing to block the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan and its Waters of the United States rule. Do you support these suits?

Hershman: I support the suits on two grounds: First, the regulations which prompted the lawsuits were unreasonable and illegal attempts to usurp the power of the legislative branch, by attempting to create policy through regulations that were not backed by law. Second, these overbroad regulations have a severe and unnecessary impact on the competitiveness of Hoosier businesses and the associated jobs created, by dramatically increasing electric power rates and wrongfully limiting private property use. Indiana will be one of the hardest-hit states in the nation as a result of these policies.

Burnett: How do you think Indiana’s relationship with the EPA and other federal agencies with environmental and energy authority might change under the Trump administration?

Hershman: I anticipate the leadership of the Trump administration to have a much greater respect for states’ rights as well as engage in a more thoughtful attempt to balance the need to protect our environment with commonsense regulations, likely by giving more attention to tools like cost-benefit analyses.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute.