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The Past, Present, and Future of Solar Energy in Indiana

Jul 8th, 2019 // Uncategorized

Just three years ago, Indiana had one of the fastest-growing solar energy industries in the United States. It created 1,100 solar jobs in 2016 and doubled its residential capacity from 2016 to 2017. 

Senate Bill 309, passed in 2017, heavily curtailed net metering incentives for Indiana homeowners. And the industry started too slow.

Since 2017, a counter bill was proposed, net metering effectively died statewide, and Trump-era tariffs on solar-related technologies put even more strain on Indiana’s declining solar industry. 

Indiana’s solar industry rate of growth dropped 93 percent in 2017. 

So, where are we now? 

When it comes to residential solar, there are still net metering incentives for homeowners who choose to install solar panels. The catch: each year installation is delayed, a smaller retail rate is rewarded for excess energy created (net metering). 

For Indiana homeowners considering installing solar panels, time is of the essence. With solar-related tariffs and a declining installation force, homeowners can still get their panels, but maybe not for the same price or speed they expect. 

Homeowners aren’t the only players waiting for their piece of the sky pie. Utility companies, school systems, and sports corporations are also exploring solar.

Duke Energy plays with solar at Purdue

As the biggest opponents of net metering, utility companies like Duke Energy are dabbling in solar alternatives for their customers. This summer, Duke Energy is building their Tippecanoe County Solar Power Plant near Purdue University. 

Comprised of 7,000 solar panels across 10 acres, the plant is said to generate enough energy to power 240 homes for 30 years beginning late 2019. 

While all solar efforts are a step in the right environmental direction, this particular plant provides clean, renewable energy for just .03 percent of its 840,000 customers. 

Fishers gets schooled on solar

Longtime independent solar provider, Ameresco, has partnered with Hamilton Southeastern Schools in Fishers, Indiana to build two solar arrays able to power three of the schools in the district

The partnership has already produced enough funds for the construction of one new playground in the district and two more projected in the coming years.

Solar education is also part of the deal. Teachers are now equipped with an Ameresco curriculum to educate their students about renewable technology and sustainability. 

The Colts started 2019 with a new energy

From food rescue to recycling to local farm sourcing, The Colts are no stranger to sustainability efforts. They kicked off the 2019 season with a partnership with North-Carolina based solar provider POWERHOME.

The sizable solar installation on top of the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center aligns with The Colts’ commitment to lowering their carbon footprint. Though it only makes a dent in the team’s thousands of dollars in monthly energy bills, it’s a step in the right direction.

Partnerships with The Colts and four other NFL franchises act as platforms for POWERHOME to shine some light on the importance of clean energy to a larger audience. 

Where are we headed?

For Indiana homeowners, it’s not too late to recoup some or all of the cost of a solar installation through net metering. But solar panels are more expensive than they were a few years ago.

Lawmakers say its too soon to tell what chance Senate Bill 309 has of being overturned and full retail net metering to be reinstated. 

It’s expected that other major Indiana utility companies will begin to offer alternative solar power solutions to their customers. Whether it will be as environmentally or cost-effective as installing rooftop solar is yet to be determined. 

Over the next five years, Indiana is expected to add 1,085 MW of solar power, enough to power about 195,300. Will yours be one of them?

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