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NEW BILL TO ENACT ENERGY STANDARDS, CREATE GREEN JOBS

NEW BILL TO ENACT ENERGY STANDARDS, CREATE GREEN JOBSA new bill facing the Indiana General Assembly could create thousands of

new jobs by requiring 20 percent of the state’s energy to come from

renewable or energy-efficient resources by 2020.The Green Jobs Development Act, co-sponsored by Rep. Ryan Dvorak, D-South

Bend, and State Senators Sue Errington, D-Muncie and Dennis Kruse,

R-Auburn, aims to push Indiana into the renewable energy sector so it can

be on par with other states.“Indiana is the only state in the Midwest without a comprehensive policy on

renewable energy and energy efficiency,” said Jesse Kharbanda, executive

director of the Hoosier Environmental Council. “We’re accordingly losing

out on opportunities to attract green businesses, create green jobs and

reduce our toxic emissions, which are in the top five in the country.”The Environmental Council is pushing for the General Assembly to pass the

bill to combat Indiana’s overreliance on fossil fuels and make the state a

more favorable climate for investments in green energy, Kharbanda said.Two main components of the act are a renewable electricity standard, which

requires utility companies to generate a portion of their electricity using

renewable energy or energy-efficient sources, and a more widespread use of

net metering, which allows businesses and private citizens to be

compensated at retail price for electricity they generate themselves.Errington said Indiana relies on coal for 97 percent of its electricity

supply, making it the most coal-reliant state. Congress is expected to

impose stricter regulations on carbon emissions soon, and the final version

of President Barack Obama’s stimulus package will likely include provisions

for green energy development, Errington said.“This is a way to diversify so that when new regulations go into effect, we

won’t be so reliant on one type of electricity,” she said.If passed, the bill would also create jobs in the construction, operation

and maintenance of wind farms and biomass plants, Kharbanda said.

Manufacturing jobs would also be created to produce the components for

these and other energy efficiency systems.For the average Hoosier, this bill would mean lower energy costs, more jobs

for skilled workers and a dynamic economy that keeps college graduates

engaged in Indiana, he said.More than 1,300 manufacturing businesses in Indiana could be altered to

produce renewable energy, which would create more than 39,000 new jobs

statewide, according to a 2008 report from the Renewable Energy Policy

Project.Indiana has the second highest potential in the country for creating these

jobs, according to the report.The bill has been assigned to the Commerce, Energy, Technology and

Utilities Committee in the House and the Utilities and Technology Committee

in the Senate.Concerns in the committees are likely to include costs to businesses and

consumers. Errington said concern among legislators will likely be for the

coal industry, which provides many jobs in Indiana.Using net metering, consumers who generate their own electricity through

the use of solar panels or windmills can recycle their excess energy back

to an electrical grid.A meter keeps track of how much energy consumers generate, and they are

subsequently compensated for the surplus at retail price. The bill will

give more people the opportunity to participate in this practice and

increase the amount of electricity they are allowed to generate.The costs of net metering include the purchase of equipment for the

consumer and administrative costs for the utility company. But consumers

will save money on energy expenses in the long run as they are reimbursed

for their electricity and as the state becomes less dependent on coal, said

Kharbanda.Dave Scanzoni, a spokesman for Duke Energy, the largest electricity

provider in Indiana, said that the passage of a Renewable Energy Standard

is unlikely to hurt business.Duke gets about 1 percen