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Energetic opposition to statewide solar, wind farm regulations

Opposition is gaining energy against a bill regulating wind and solar farms in Indiana.

“It’s just a bad, bad bill,” says White County Commissioner David Diener.

White County is home to several wind and proposed solar farms, but Diener says that choice should be up to local governments.

“It’s great if no one else wants them, we’ll just get more of them,” he says.

But House Bill 1381 sets default standards for the installation of wind and solar farms.

“We’re opposed to that because it takes away the local control,” says Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh.

Tippecanoe County restricts wind farms and recently rolled out regulations on solar farms, according to a previous reports by News 18.

“We’d hate to see that all just thrown away and have to abide by a statewide mandate,” Murtaugh says.

But State Representative Ed Soliday, the bill’s author, says renewable energy companies are hesitant to invest in Indiana because local governments can say no.

“Local control, I believe in it,” Soliday says. “But there’s a limit to local control. You know what that is? When your local government’s actions impact a different local government’s reality.”

He’d rather attract those companies instead of buying energy from other states.

“Who do we want to be as a state? What do we want to pay for electricity?” he says. “Because the renewable train is coming down the track.”

The bill also regulates the permit and approval process of solar and wind farms and allows appeals to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

“If the company feels they were treated inappropriately, just willful and capricious, they can appeal to the IURC,” Soliday says.

But Diener says that passes the buck to state legislature and then to a state-appointed board.

“If someone says, ‘No, I don’t like your permitting so I’m going to go to the state and they’re going to give me a permit and we’ll cut you out,'” he says. “Does that make any sense?”

The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications. A hearing and testimony on the bill is expected next week.