The Effect of Senate Bill 309 on Indiana’s Solar Market

Indiana is not a leader in solar energy, however the state has been making significant strides towards energy independence over recent years. The recent passage of Senate Bill 309 may halt any real progression from taking place in the residential solar sector.

For those who are unfamiliar, SB 309 significantly reduces state solar incentives and creates an exclusive rate glass for solar users. The bill received opposition from the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance, which claimed that the bill was wrongfully represented and influenced committee voting.

Although the bill was amended to not include its initial requirement that solar consumers sell energy at a wholesale rate to the utility company then purchase it back at a higher retail rate; the lack of financial incentive may have a negative effect on residential solar installations. In addition to the lack of financial incentive, Indiana does not have as many peak sun hours as many states where solar is popular such as California. The limited peak sun hours and low net metering monetary gain increases the length of time before homeowners will see a positive return on investment on their systems. Although residents can still take full advantage of federal financial incentives, they are unlikely to see an ROI that will merit the cost of their solar systems.

What does this mean for installers in Indiana? Installers may continue to install solar systems on residential homes, but are unlikely to get the same frequency of customers that they did prior to passage of the bill. It is still possible that the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance and like-minded groups will be able to work to overturn the bill’s passing and default back to Indiana’s previous and more beneficial net metering laws. Regardless, the fight to bring it back will be long, and solar installations are sure to decline during this time. Indiana residents and installers are encouraged to take full advantage of other solar incentives on both the federal and state level to increase their ROI and encourage solar sales.

State incentives still in place include the Energy Savings Tax Credit, which covers solar powered roof vents or fans for one half the amount paid for labor and materials or $1,000. Homeowners will need to provide the installation date and proof of all cost in order to be eligible for the tax credit.

Homeowners are further encouraged to contact their local utility companies to obtain further details on their rates for net metering usage. There are also a number of country rebate programs that homeowners and commercial businesses may be eligible for. This being said, however, the net metering incentive was by far the most lucrative, and we will be sure to follow the progression of changing the law.

Indiana’s solar energy market still has vast potential, home solar system installations started to steadily increase throughout 2014 to the present. Likewise, jobs in the solar sector also began to increase; it is possible that Senate Bill 309 will not completely cut off the growth of Indiana’s solar energy market, however it is highly likely that it will instead stunt the industry overall.

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Brandi Casey is one of the original founders of Solaris Technology Industry, Inc., based in Englewood, Colorado. She currently works as the Director of Operations, and assists in putting together residential and commercial solar arrays.

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