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Tippecanoe Co. Commissioners send letter to lawmakers arguing against solar and wind farm bill

In the letter, the bill is called "an assault on local home rule".

Posted: Mar 23, 2021 4:04 PM
Updated: Mar 23, 2021 6:32 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Tippecanoe County Commissioners are taking action against a bill regulating solar and wind farms in Indiana.

As we've reported, House Bill 1381 sets default standards for installation.

Tippecanoe County restricts wind farms and recently rolled out regulations on solar farms.

Commissioner Tom Murtaugh and the two other county commissioners wrote a letter to local lawmakers.

In it, the bill is called "an assault on local home rule".

Bill co-author State Representative Sharon Negele said she's willing to work with Tippecanoe County leaders.

"Some of the language that I know is being discussed right now has to do with renewable zones and working with the counties and trying to figure out, you know, is there an area in your county that could be designated as a renewable zone," Negele said.

Murtaugh argued the bill would hurt economic development.

"As long as those companies developing wind or solar meet that generic statewide standard, they can develop wherever they want," said Murtaugh. "Well, that ties up ground for decades."

Murtaugh said local elected officials should be setting the standards.

"Zoning has always been a local issue and should be in every single county because of different criteria, different priorities for each local community," said Murtaugh.

State Rep. Negele said she's already working with county leaders around the state and amendments have been added.

"We're having conversations about what we could do to work within the parameters, within zoning rights, protecting property rights," said Negele. "There are just a lot of different facets that we have to address in this bill."

Negele said it was amended in the House to respect residential growth.

The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications, but has not yet had a hearing.

Below is the letter Tippecanoe County Commissioners sent to the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee and local legislators:

We would like to express our strong opposition to HB 1381 on commercial wind and solar standards. To set statewide standards on these projects is a mistake because every county, whether it is rural, urban or mixed, is unique. The standards for these projects should be set by local officials who have been elected to do just that. This bill is an assault on local home rule.

The sponsors of HB 1381 argue that local ordinances have or will block investment dollars in Indiana. In Tippecanoe County, we respectfully disagree. The proposed legislation would enable alternative energy companies to develop with no local control and render thousands of acres otherwise undevelopable for up to 3 decades. That initial investment from the wind farm developer pales in comparison to the investment potential of that land over the thirty year period. HB 1381 would hinder continued economic development growth in Tippecanoe County.

Thank you for your time on this matter and please vote no on HB 1381. If you have any questions, we can be reached at commissioners@tippecanoe.in.gov or at 765-423-9215.

Tippecanoe County Commissioners

Tom Murtaugh

David Byers

Tracy Brown

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