The Allen County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution Friday opposing a state bill affecting zoning approval for commercial renewable energy projects.
Indiana House Bill 1381 would set default standards for the installation of wind and solar infrastructure, including setback requirements, height restrictions and sound level limitations.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Edmond Soliday (R-Valparaiso); Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Attica); Rep. Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis); Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) and Sen. Eric Koch (R-Bedford). Critics oppose the bill because it would supersede local regulations, allowing projects to be completed without direct county oversight, according to Allen County commissioner Nelson Peters.
Peters said through discussions with other members of the Indiana Association of County Commissioners, much of the criticism indicated “not that people were against renewable energy as much as losing home rule.”
“It is a situation where, as the camel gets his nose under the tent, local county commissions will continue to lose the ability to make decisions at the local level in deference to what’s happening down in the Statehouse,” he continued.
According to a news release, the Allen County Commissioners believe wind turbines and solar panels could be placed without any local approval if the legislation is approved.
In its resolution, the board of commissioners said it believes that “decisions regarding wind and solar development are best made by the citizens living in the community, rather than by the wind and solar industry or state officials who live outside the community.”
The commissioners’ resolution goes on to state, “Such legislation would disenfranchise the citizens of the ability to determine the conditions under which wind energy and solar energy projects would be allowed in their county.”
Peters and commissioner Rich Beck approved the resolution unanimously Friday. Commissioner Therese Brown was absent.
More than half of Indiana’s 92 counties have approved similar resolutions. HB 1381 passed the Indiana House of Representatives by a vote of 58-38. It now heads to the Indiana Senate for consideration.