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News: Indiana Green Energy bill passes out of committee

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Environmentalists from around the state are celebrating what amounts to a small victory and perhaps a great shift in attitude here in Indiana.

Yesterday, the Indiana House of Representatives Utilities Committee passed SB 300, legislation that supporters believe provides for a comprehensive renewable energy policy to help jumpstart the state's economy. The bill now moves to a vote before the full House.

As amended, SB 300 establishes a renewable electricity standard (RES) that would ensure Indiana receives at least 15 percent of its electricity from renewable or energy-efficient resources such as wind, biomass, and energy-efficient technologies by 2025. It also would allow Hoosier homes and businesses to generate their own electricity and roll their meters back when they return any excess power to the electric grid through net metering.

"We appreciate the members of the Utilities Committee for their vision for accelerating the pace of attracting green jobs to Indiana," said Jesse Kharbanda, Executive Director of the Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) and key proponent of both an RES and net metering, as part of the Green Jobs Development Act. "This is a major step toward putting Indiana in a competitive position to achieve billions of dollars in green investment, and help our states strong manufacturing base get back to work."

According to HEC, two recent studies by the Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP) and the Center for American Progress (CAP) support Indiana's potential to gain new jobs in both renewable energy production and in renewable energy manufacturing. The studies estimate that Indiana has the potential to create 40,000 manufacturing jobs spread across wind, solar, geothermal and biomass components firms, with an associated investment of $6.26 billion. Tens of thousands of additional green jobs could also be created for the construction, service, support and sale of these same energy technologies.

"Establishing a policy today that emphasizes renewable energy will pay off in the long run for Hoosier families," said Rep. Dvorak, an original sponsor of the Green Jobs Development Act. "It's imperative we look to new ways to bolster our economy, and the green jobs that stand to be created will have a tremendous impact on workers and businesses across our state."

"Good jobs and a clean environment can go hand-in-hand," said Robin Rich, spokeswoman of United Steelworkers District 7, who also testified in support of the bill. "Were another step closer to realizing the economic benefits of an RES, and those benefits couldnt come fast enough for our state. We need to get our outstanding workforce back in the game, and help Hoosier families pay their bills and put food on the table."

Support for a state RES has been far-reaching, and has included such varied organizations as: United Steelworkers District 7, the Indiana Conservation Alliance, the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club, Health by Design, the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, the Indiana Wildlife Federation, Improving Kid's Environment, Indiana Universitys Department of Public Health, and the Environmental Law and Policy Center. Numerous green businesses and other companies across Indiana also have lent their support, including: AlgaeWheel (Indianapolis), Greenway Supply (Indianapolis), ECI Wind and Solar (Grant County), Inovateus Solar (South Bend), Morton Energy (Evansville), and RiverBridge Electric (Wabash County), SunRise Solar (Lake County).

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