County opposes new alternative energy rules stripping local authority

Bartholomew County Commissioners are opposing a proposed state law that they say would block local officials from review of alternative energy projects in their communities and stifle the voices of project opponents.

The commissioners agreed this week to sign a letter expressing their support of retaining local control over land use decisions for solar and wind energy projects. County Attorney Grant Tucker explained that the proposed law would essentially eliminate local review of those projects. House Bill 1381 has already passed the Indiana House and is going to be considered by the Senate.

Commissioner Tony London said he is opposed to the bill because it takes away local authority, autonomy and agency over the decisions on where to build wind and solar farms in the state. He said it takes away residents ability to speak up themselves in opposition to a project, instead restricting comments to those who can afford to hire attorneys to represent them at the state level regulatory decision-making. He said the proposed law would require a minimum of 25 people represented by attorneys to have standing at the state level.

Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said he sees the bill as a push to make it easier and cheaper for alternative energy companies to push their projects through. He said he is in favor of impact fees that would require companies to pay their adjoining neighbors for the damage they cause to property values.

The Association of Indiana Counties and Indiana Association of County Commissioners recommended counties oppose the proposed legislation.