By almost any measure, the past year brought a remarkable expansion of renewable energy interest and projects in the Hoosier state.
Renewable energy projects sprouted quickly, with more than one-third of our state’s current solar and wind developments starting in 2021.
Our Renewable Energy Map is updated regularly and now charts more than 120 renewable projects, with 46 of them started in the past year alone.
More projects mean more renewable benefits for more Hoosiers.
For example, in Pulaski County, a new solar project there will bring $85 million in new economic growth. In Cass County, it means $30 million in increased tax revenue, and in Knox County, $1 million in economic growth.
And construction of solar in just those three counties combined means nearly 1,000 jobs.
These economic opportunities are why Hoosiers are for renewables. Like me, many see hidden gems in solar energy:
- School improvements, road repair, support for first responders, and even better broadband, all possibilities with the tax revenue that flows from renewable projects to their host counties;
- Increases in assessed valuation for property in counties throughout our state that are considering solar developments. In other words, solar developments could mean stable, or even lower, taxes for Hoosier businesses and property owners;
- Attracting new businesses like Apple, Amazon, and Cummins – all firms with an eye on renewable energy, given that wind and solar are now less expensive sources of energy than coal or natural gas.
- Enhancing the diversity of our electric grid. The reality is that we need ALL types of energy in our state. It’s important that we diversify our energy economy just like a farmer seeks to diversify his crops, or an investor seeks to diversify her portfolio of stock and bonds.
Local support is vital. A solar or wind project can’t go just anywhere. Easy access to a nearby electrical transmission line is one factor, as is a cooperative local community interested in reaping the benefits of this type of economic development.
Farmers earn a sustainable income not dependent on weather or global grain prices, and solar farms can preserve our agricultural legacy while providing farmers with economic security and income diversity.
Indiana has the opportunity to lead, or to follow. Our progress in 2021 shows we are leading. We have the opportunity to help our farmers earn two to three times with solar energy what they can earn with traditional crops.
And we have the responsibility to look out for the next generation and make sure that family farms are financially viable for the next generation.