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Legislature To Hear How Solar Bill Affects Schools

Solar panels at Lowel Middle School abutting a corn field.

A legislative study committee this week will examine how a controversial law passed earlier this year that changes the affordability of solar panels affects schools.

Senate Bill 309 made changes to the state’s so-called net metering rules. Starting next year, people with new solar panels will receive less money for selling energy back to the electric grid.

The bill generated a significant amount of public testimony. The Indiana Energy Association, which represents the state’s major utilities, was one of the few groups to support the bill. Environmentalists, renewable energy advocates, religious groups and small businesses all opposed it.

Some schools also opposed the bill, and they will be the subject of this week’s hearing. Many schools, such as Tri-Creek School Corporation, are installing solar systems to make up for what Tri-Creek Superintendent Deb Howe calls inadequate funding.

“All the money that we use is tax payer’s money,” says Howe. “If you don’t have to spend as much money for the electrical output, it can back into supporting students. Why would you not want that to occur?”

Under the current law, schools are affected just like everyone else.

The committee will also hear testimony about wind turbines.

The hearing will take place Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at the Statehouse.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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