Update… “SB 309 is up for a possible committee vote this Thursday, February 16, at 9 a.m. at the Senate Utilities Committee, Room 233. Click here to find your state senator. Please call him or her and urge them to vote NO on SB 309. Also, call Senator Jim Merrit's office at 800-382-9467 and ask him not to support SB 309. He is chair of the committee.”
The Poor Handmaids recently sent the letter below to their Indiana Congressman. Please ask your Indiana legislators to vote NO on SB 309 and HB 1188, and YES on HB 1624.
Dear Senator Randy Head and Representative Jack Jordon: We write to you concerned about proposed legislation related to solar power, SB 309 and HB 1188.
As Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, we strive to stand with the poor and powerless in the search for justice, and to use our resources in response to the emerging needs of society. To that end, we have been continually looking for new ways to enhance our ecological relationships in our community in Marshall County. The continued use of fossil fuels has been a recent concern of ours, as the scientific evidence of their negative impacts has accumulated: lead-contaminated soils, extreme weather patterns, and shifting ecological communities. The effects of these disruptions are most likely to be borne by the vulnerable, who are least able to adapt.
Our Leadership Team recently visited the 750-KW solar farm in Argos as well as other local solar arrays in order to learn more about how this technology is reducing utility bills, creating jobs, and decreasing dependence on dirty fuels that are worsening these ecological disruptions. We've been in discussion recently with several local solar installers about ways that we can "go solar."
Passage of SB 309 (and HB 1188) would likely derail these efforts. As extensively documented in the press, SB 309 would force owners of private solar arrays to sell energy to the electrical monopoly at wholesale prices and purchase back at retail. The rationale behind SB 309 is that net metering arrangements (where periods of overproduction by private solar producers are credited at full retail prices) equate to dodging one's fair share of costs to maintain the electric grid. However, to date there has been no Indiana study of any kind to support this assertion. The great majority of studies conducted in other states show that net metering has benefits to the utilities greater or equal to their cost (Brookings Institution, 2016).
Net metering works and it means more solar on the ground and jobs in the community. The solar industry now employs 1,567 Hoosiers in 72 Indiana business. When Nevada gutted net metering, the three largest solar installers left the state and new installations plummeted 92%. We should encourage more renewable energy, not less.
The electricity required to power our six ministries and assist the work of our hundreds of employees is significant. We are looking for solar-powered options to reduce our bills and put our resources back into more local programs. Additionally, a large solar array would serve as an educational resource for students at Ancilla College, as well as a demonstration site to share the technology with rural residents and farmers. We are ready to invest in our own local "village," making use of the freely-available solar energy that falls on our land. Going solar would allow us to live our core values more deeply, to encourage democratic, distributed power instead of monopolistic, concentrated.
Fortunately, alternative pro-solar legislation has been authored by Rep. Mike Speedy. HB 1624, in contrast to SB 309, would greatly expand opportunities for local Indiana schools, universities, and municipalities to install solar.
Please vote NO on SB 309 and HB 1188, and YES on HB 1624.
Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ American Province
Sister Loretta Schleper, Sister Mary Baird and Adam Thada are in Indianapolis presenting the PHJC’s letters concerning the upcoming solar energy bills.
Sister Loretta Schleper, Sister Mary Baird and Adam Thad with Senator Randy Head.
Sister Loretta Schlepper presenting the PHJC later to the Statehouse.