While HB1381 was amended multiple times before eventually dying on the floor, there is a reason it still didn’t make it through the Senate. HB1381 was introduced to remove the local control over siting and building requirements of commercial scale wind and solar projects across Indiana. While some of these local control issues were handled in amendments engrossed in the bill, some remained and some got worse.
By the time HB1381 reached the Senate floor for the third reading and final vote, it did allow counties to grandfather in existing ordinances and bans regarding wind/solar projects.
However, a unit (city, county, etc) had to have this ordinance in place by July 1st of this year, which is not a long enough time frame to complete this process. Also, a unit could never amend their ordinance in a way that would make it stricter than the states standards.
This removes any unit’s ability to learn from their mistakes and change their ordinance accordingly.
The most recent version of the bill also seemed to change the process a unit would currently follow to approve or deny a commercial wind or solar project. Instead of following the normal application process, the first step would have been a company requesting a RED (Renewable Energy District) from the unit. If a unit approved a RED, the unit would then have to approve the application submitted for the project within the next five years. Also, if a RED was approved the project would only have to follow the state standards, which are more relaxed than what is found in most county ordinances.
For these reasons, the bill was still not good for the cities, counties, and residents of Indiana.
This is why the IAC, AICC, many local elected officials, and many residents of Indiana were still opposed to the bill in its final version, and the reason it was not going to get enough Senate votes to pass.
Watch closely Indiana! This bill number may be dead, but the push to remove local control of these projects is still alive.