Thursday, May 29, 2008

Solar, Wind, Net Meter-- Watts up Indiana

Is Indiana ahead of others? Yes in net metering. But shouldn’t we be doing a lot more?

We have all heard about people installing solar panels on their roof or a windmill in their back yard. Well these systems keep dropping in costs and I expect more and more of these systems to be installed. I really expect them to pop up on one farm after another as that where it makes the most sense to reduce the cost of operation.

What is net metering?

This is where a special metering and billing agreement is established between a power user, who also installs power-generating equipment and sells back to the utility excess power. Lets say you install solar panel on your roof and while you are gone during the day, the panels generate more power than your empty house uses. That extra power is fed back into the power grid and in essence your meter runs backwards. You would then be charged for only the “net” amount of power you used.

Federal rules allow for up to 100kW of power to be returned to a utility at the avoided cost. But the limits of what a utility has to accept are set by each state. Some how the limits set by each state do not make any sense, in Arizona the limit is 10kW, in California it far exceeds the Federal limit with 1000kW, In Arkansas its 25kW for residential and 100kW for commercial systems. In Indiana you can have 1000kW per month that’s 1 Megawatt per month the same as California. But not as good as Ohio which has no limit.

Should we be doing a lot more? Yes. Indiana also exempts solar, wind etc residential units from property taxes. But many other states offer rebates and other incentives to install this type of equipment Indiana does not.

In the Indianapolis Star on May 29, 2008 the front-page headline “Indy’s big footprint.” “Study ranks metro area second-worst in U.S. for carbon emissions, due in part to use of coal.”

Shouldn’t Indiana take immediate action to reduce this carbon footprint and encourage installation of both solar and wind power by homeowners? We need to do this and do it fast. We need to pass legislation that exempts solar panels and small wind turbines from residential covenants. Most homes can’t install these items due to artistic restrictions. If multimillion-dollar California homes can have solar panels so can we.

We also need to provide rebates at the state level similar to those offered by other states. Many states offer rebates. Loans, and property and sales tax exemptions for different kinds of renewal able energy sources. Why not Indiana?

A way to reduce our carbon emissions is to encourage Hoosiers to install alternate energy systems. Its time the state works towards that end.

If elected I will move to pass legislation to encourage sound energy management programs.

My name is Joe Weingarten and I approve this massage

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