21st Century Energy Task Force Strikes the Right Balance on Future Energy Policy for Indiana

20 Nov 2020

Clean Grid Alliance applauds several recommendations put forth by the 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force in the report it finalized. The Task Force set the direction of Indiana’s electricity future based on testimony from numerous stakeholders provided during 10 meetings held over two years. A large focus of the report is the state’s pathway to using more renewable energy resources. Clean Grid Alliance (CGA) applauds the Task Force's recommendations for legislation to standardize property tax assessments and siting requirements for utility-scale renewable resources, and to create transmission infrastructure plans beneficial for Indiana. 

“This is a very positive report for renewable resources and Indiana. It’s clear that the Task Force understood the barriers to utility-scale renewable development in Indiana and acted on the proactive steps CGA and its members recommended,” said Clean Grid Alliance Executive Director Beth Soholt. “The recommendations in the report will allow Indiana electric customers and utilities to access home grown renewable energy resources by putting the state on a path to overcome the barriers preventing renewable energy development in the state. The recommendations will also allow Indiana to leverage the state's manufacturing capabilities, and communities to receive the benefits of developing renewable projects, including jobs, economic development and tax revenue.”

Clean Grid Alliance spoke at five of the 10 Task Force hearings, which took place from August 2019 through November 2020. CGA’s member companies Invenergy LLC, EDP Renewables, EDF Renewables, and American Wind Energy Association also made five presentations over three Task Force hearings. Among its presentations, CGA recommended the Task Force:

  • state that it is in Indiana’s interest to have a policy that provides certainty and stability around siting standards used for utility-scale wind and solar; 
  •  have a policy or statewide rate for utility-scale solar resource property taxes so there is certainty and stability and ensure those property taxes are competitive with those of neighboring states; and 
  • encourage the state to have policies and a forward-looking plan to foster transmission to be built in time for new generation and ensure resource adequacy.

Indiana’s strong utility-scale wind and solar energy resources have resulted in nearly $5 billion in capital investment in the state. This development not only delivers low-cost, renewable energy, but also $14 million in state and local tax payments annually, and an additional $5-$10 million in direct payments to landowners who have chosen to lease their farmland to host energy infrastructure. 

“The number one deterrent to renewable energy development in Indiana right now are the overly burdensome ordinances for wind development we see in 34 counties,” said Sean Brady, CGA’s Senior Counsel and Regional Policy Manager-East who has actively participated with the Task Force on behalf of the organization.. These restrictive ordinances are preventing the development of renewable energy that strengthens the state’s energy independence. They have also caused Indiana to lose $6-$7 billion in potential capital investment in the last few years and the substantial property tax revenue to the state and local governments. “The state’s current patchwork of zoning regulations are based on hype and misinformation instead of facts and scientific evidence. The report’s recommendations would lead to a stable, predictable business climate for utility-scale renewable resources to meet the plans of Indiana utilities and provide low stable prices for electricity consumers,” said Brady. 

According to MISO and PJM data, there is in excess of 29,000 megawatts of wind and solar projects looking to build in Indiana. Indiana utilities are accelerating their transition toward a cleaner energy system, a trend made clear in their recent integrated resource plans that call for approximately 9,300 megawatts of new renewable energy capacity by 2030, and approximately 14,450 megawatts by 2040. This presents a significant economic opportunity for rural host communities as well as ratepayers who will see savings in their pocketbooks as more low-cost energy enters the energy marketplace.

Clean Grid Alliance | cleangridalliance.org