‘Someone in Indianapolis, with no ties to Vigo County could approve this’: County Commissioners discuss issues with Indiana renewable energy bill

Local News

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– With coal plants across the state closing, state representative Ed Soliday, said the market for renewable energy is growing.

He authored HB 1381 and he said he believes this is a way for the state to invest and attract larger corporations to Indiana.

“The big companies are saying we’re not going to come to Indiana until you get your act straightened out and this an attempt to do that,” Rep. Soliday said. “This is a way to find a balance between the rights of a property owner to use their property as they see fit because they own it and the right of the neighbor to say ‘hey you’re bothering me. “

If the legislation is passed and signed into law, wind and solar energy developers could build energy plants without county approval.

Vigo County Commissioners passed a resolution against the proposed legislation.  Commissioner Brendan Kearns said he believes it’s wrong.

“If that was to pass it would strip of us of  those processes. Someone in Indianapolis, with no ties to Vigo County, who may not even care about Vigo County could approve this,” he said “I just think that’s wrong. Everything about it is wrong.”

Soliday said Indiana’s energy grid can currently use 30% of renewable energy.  He said his goal is to help the state find a balance.

“We’re trying to find something that is uniform. We’re going to use renewables. There are people out there who say ‘I’m dead set against renewables,” he continued.  “But the problem is we’re going to use them whether we like it or not. There’s a market for them and we’re trying to create a venue that makes us more marketable.”

Kearns stated he welcomes the idea of renewable energy. But he fears a bill like HB1381 will hurt local government in the long haul.

“Why would you do this to all 92 counties in the state? When realistically it only impacts 60 counties in the state. If you look deeper, this is just my theory but this the first step in removing control that county officials have. “

HB1381 passed through the Indiana House of Representatives in February. It is currently waiting to receive a vote from the state Senate. Rep. Soliday said he is optimistic the bill will pass.

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