In the age of Trump, a US governor seek to destroy the solar industry in his state



A rooftop solar installation in South Bend, Indiana. Photo credit: Home Energy LLC via Flickr.

By Anders Lorenzen

While the world’s eyes are glued to Trump, closely watching his next steps in attacking the environment, or pleading with him not to exit the Paris Agreement, a state governor is coordinating his own attack on his state’s renewable energy industry.

Last week Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed into law a Senate bill which is directed at the state’s net-metering program.

So why is this important?

It is important because the law will slash the rate at which customers with solar panels are reimbursed for excess energy. And it will, therefore, reduce the compensation from the retail energy rate to a price just above wholesale.

It is feared that the new law, which is hugely controversial, could stifle the market for residential solar which is not seen as a success in the state anyway and thus deliver a fatal blow to solar uptake.

Out of the 50 states in the US, Indiana is ranked 28th for renewable energy investment, and it is feared the law will further restrict the ability for solar to grow in the state.

Chad Tudenggongbu, a senior renewable energy campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity said: “It’s incomprehensible that Governor Holcomb would sign a bill whose sole purpose is to cripple Indiana’s solar industry. Solar development in Indiana is still in its infancy. With one stroke of his pen, Holcomb has told the renewable energy industry’s good-paying job holders to go elsewhere, and to take their cleaner air and climate action with them.”

Signing the bill does not stack up with the Governor’s own plan to turn Indiana into a magnet for high-tech jobs and innovation. Overall in the US growth in the renewable energy sector outpaces any other in the energy sector. Data from 2016 shows that one out of every 50 new jobs added in the US were created in the solar industry sector.

Mr Tudenggongbu concludes: “Holcomb has robbed Hoosiers (a nickname for Indiana residents) of the freedom of energy choice. By signing S.B. 309, the governor put special interests ahead of the people even though it weakens the economy, stifles individual freedom and threatens our environment.”

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