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New Indiana solar law could cripple small businesses and customer savings

The source of Rohaly's concern — and that of many other small business owners — is Senate Bill 309. The law, championed by the state's powerful utility industry, phases out net metering, which requires utilities to pay solar users for any excess energy that is created by their solar panels. The program was intended to provide an important incentive for Hoosiers to install expensive solar panels and produce their own energy that is better for the environment. Rohaly, who is the co-founder of Green Alternatives, Inc., is among thousands of solar providers and their employees, as well as ratepayers, consumer and environmental advocates, schools and municipalities, who are anxiously watching what will happen when the law, passed in May, begins phasing out net metering on Jan. 1, 2018. The law was pitched as a way to level the playing field between solar customers and the state's investor-owned utilities, who maintain net metering is an unnecessary subsidy paid for by other ratepayers. But an IndyStar investigation that looked at how such laws have played out in other states and how the law already is having an impact here suggests SB 309 could put an entire industry at risk of stagnation at best — and, at worst, collapse. Net metering, in its simplest form, credits customers for excess energy they produce that flows back to the grid — thus helping to offset electricity they consume from the utility at other times. More than 40 states have some variation of the rule.

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Indianapolis Star