Indiana legislators packed up and went home in early March, and Gov. Eric Holcomb spent the next few weeks signing bills into law, marking the end of the 2022 legislative session. Conservative leadership passed significant energy legislation this year with a strong emphasis on protecting property rights and integrating new technologies into our State.
We wanted to take a few minutes to break down the most important pieces of legislation—and why they matter for Hoosier conservatives eager to embrace clean energy.
House Enrolled Act 1196 represents six years of discussion between rooftop solar advocates and the Indiana Builders Association on how, or if, rooftop solar should be regulated in homeowners’ associations (HOAs). This legislation lays out a framework for HOAs to approve rooftop solar, while also providing members a path to petition their HOAs if out-of-date covenants exist. The bill author, Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis, told the IndyStar he wanted Hoosiers to have a choice on where their energy comes from. This bill protects Hoosiers’ private property rights and their energy freedom.
Toyota’s $800 million investment in their Princeton plant last April to manufacture electric vehicles (EVs) and Gov. Holcomb’s participation in the Regional Electric Vehicle Midwest Plan last fall signaled that the free market and Indiana’s executive branch are ready to embrace EVs. In a win for consumers who want more energy options, House Enrolled Act 1221 established new regulatory guidelines for EV charging. Now, owners of electric vehicle charging stations can sell by kilowatt-per-hour instead of solely time spent charging. The bill also established an optional pilot program for the utilities to operate public use electric vehicles, such as school buses or public transportation. Various stakeholders expressed concern over a provision that requires EV charging stations to purchase their electricity from the local utility, essentially cutting out distributed generation chargers from the market. This will likely be a topic of discussion in upcoming legislation sessions.
A series of bills passed indicating the state’s willingness to expand its energy-mix portfolio and embrace new technologies. First, Senate Enrolled Act 147 adds underground pumped storage hydropower to multiple lists of clean energy technologies. Second, Senate Enrolled Act 271 does the same for small modular nuclear reactors but adds that the IURC must promulgate rules for approving these projects. Last but certainly not least, the Indiana General Assembly decided to take up wind and solar siting again after a turbulent and unsuccessful attempt in 2021. Senate Enrolled Act 411 sets statewide wind and solar siting standards. These are optional standards that, if adopted by a community, designate the local unit as a wind or solar energy ready community.
It’s important to note that all five of the bills referenced here were authored by Republicans. In a state dominated by Republican leadership, conservative lawmakers continue to make it clear they want to protect private property rights and embrace new technologies.
This reflects the sentiment we saw reflected in our recent polling, where 95 percent of Hoosier conservatives said landowners should decide how use of land is developed; 56 percent of conservatives said they support developing more solar farms; and 84 percent believe that “markets and costs” should decide a form of energy.
The same polling showed that Hoosier voters are 72 percent more likely to vote for a candidate who supports renewable energy. With the entire State House of Representatives up for election this year and half of the State Senate, these policies aren’t just important to advance clean energy, they are important to voters.
Kacey Crane is the Executive Director of the Indiana Conservative Alliance for Energy.