Project Development, Solar, Wind Power

Indiana Rep. Introduces Feed Law Bill & Wisconsin PSC Opens Docket on Renewable Tariffs

Indiana State Representative Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) has introduced HB 1622, the Advanced Renewable Energy Tariffs Act, into the Indiana General Assembly. The bill received first reading January 16 and was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Energy, Technology and Utilities. Rep. Pierce is Vice Chair of the committee.

The Midwest has have become a hot bed of activity around feed-in tariffs since the introduction of HB 5218, the Michigan Renewable Energy Sources Act, in the fall of 2007 by Rep. Kathleen Law.

Following a presentation by Rep. Law to the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators in early 2008, bills were introduced into the Illinois and the Minnesota state assemblies. Rep. David Bly has announced that he plans to reintroduce his bill into Minnesota’s new legislative session. Illinois representatives have been preoccupied with the impeachment of Governor Blagojevich and it is uncertain whether the Illinois bill will be reintroduced.

Rep. Pierce announced on September 10, 2008 at DePauw University that he intended to introduce a bill calling for a full system of Advanced Renewable Tariffs like those in Germany, France and Spain into the next legislative session. Since that time Pierce was named Vice Chair of the relevant committee.

Indiana has effectively no renewable energy policy and only a fledgling renewable energy industry. Nevertheless, there is some wind energy development in the north of the state, all for export, and an Italian manufacturer of gearboxes for wind turbines plans to open a factory near Muncie, Indiana.

HB 1622 is patterned after the Michigan bill and like the Michigan bill is intended to spur job creation in a state suffering from the collapse of the auto industry, long a major employer.
Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission (PSC) opened an investigation of Advanced Renewable Tariff Development on January 16. The move represents the first formal action in response to an inquiry by the Governor into policies for addressing climate change that recommended a state-wide system of feed-in tariffs.

The PSC’s investigation is also the first examination of feed-in tariffs outside of California, and is the first formal investigation of the system of feed-in tariffs like those used in Germany, France, and Spain in the USA by a regulator with rate-setting authority. Previously, California’s Public Utility Commission set a crude feed-in tariff based on wholesale costs. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has concluded a lengthy investigation of feed-in tariffs, but has no rate-setting authority.

Wisconsin’s PSC has some experience with simple feed-in tariffs, having approved tariffs for limited amounts of some technologies for a limited amount of time.

Like the CEC’s examination of feed-in tariffs in California, the PSC’s investigation is broad ranging and encompasses the technologies that should be included, the mechanism for setting the tariffs and the possible costs of the tariffs to consumers.