• Steve Eberly

Renewable Energy Takes Hold in State, But Lets Go Faster

The Indiana Business Journal published the following from Hoosiers for Renewables Executive Director Steve Eberly on August 28:

The Hoosier State is reaching a critical inflection point for the future of energy production in our state, now that the cost of generating electricity with renewable sources has plummeted. Electricity generation from renewable energy sources is now lower than the cost of natural gas or coal, according to a recent Ball State University study.

Renewables can help strengthen our economy and make substantial financial contributions to the counties and municipalities where wind and solar projects are on the drawing boards.

Indiana is still far behind on renewable energy. The state of Iowa generates over 40% of their electricity from renewables. In Indiana, it’s not even 10% from renewable sources. We’ve made some progress in the past decade, but we’re not moving fast enough.

It’s time for policymakers and Hoosiers all over our state to embrace a future built on reliable technologies that are now more affordable than ever. It will mean low-cost energy production, more Indiana jobs, and financial rewards for both communities and landowners.

There are 26 projects being explored or developed in Indiana right now, and we should embrace – not fight – this progress. Solar and wind projects generate real income for landowners, new sources of revenue for cities, towns, and counties, and they reduce our state’s dependence on more expensive energy sources.

Of course, a mix of fuel sources will always be needed. But it’s obvious to me that renewables can help strengthen our economy and make substantial financial contributions to the counties and municipalities where wind and solar projects are on the drawing boards.

Major manufacturing operations are buying more power from renewable sources, often seeking access to renewable energy when deciding on new or expanded corporate locations. Amazon has its wind farms in western Indiana. Not far from Muncie, in Randolph County, a solar farm is under consideration that would be ten times larger than the solar energy facility at the Indianapolis International Airport. That new eastern Indiana solar farm would be capable of generating enough electricity to power every home in the county – three times over!

In Northern Indiana, Northern Indiana Public Service Company is in the process of adding 2,300 megawatts of solar, the largest such planned renewable expansion in the USA. Southern Indiana’s Vectren plans to increase renewables use so that 60 percent of their future energy mix will come from wind, solar, and battery storage.

Both liberals and conservatives see the benefits of renewables. According to a recent IU study examining preferences for renewable energy among different ideological groups (liberal, conservative and moderate), the broad consensus favored a future in which the nation primarily relied on renewable energy and used less fossil fuel.

In Lafayette, Purdue researchers crunched the numbers on adding just 500 megawatts of wind energy in 10 states. They determined that the eye-popping result of projects like that could mean $27 billion in total economic impact. Those are real dollars for landowners and local governments. Those are construction jobs to build new facilities, and maintenance jobs to keep solar panels going and wind turbines turning.

We’ve got a long way to go, but the trend is looking up as we diversify our energy generation mix. I’m very excited about the potential for renewable energy in our state. The time has come to let the sun shine in (and the wind turbines turn!)