Update on solar net metering in Indiana

Earlier this year, the Poor Handmaids joined thousands of other Hoosiers opposing SEA309, which curtailed solar net metering for customers of Indiana’s investor-owned monopoly utilities. Here’s the original statement from our Provincial Team (our leadership council of four Poor Handmaids). Some of the worst provisions were removed or edited, but the bill ultimately passed.

Joining hundreds of other citizens to lobby against SB309 in the Senate chamber, with Sr. Loretta and Sr. Mary Baird.

The legislation spurred several “solarize” campaigns throughout the state (including Northern Indiana), where homeowners and businesses used group-purchasing to get solar panels installed before terms changed at the end of the year.

Further good news is that the press and attention generated by this bill accelerated the formation of a constituency that is now paying attention to energy policy in the state, which is still far behind where we need to be. The science tells us that where we need to be, within my lifetime, is zero carbon.

This year, several important press pieces have put these pieces together. Rather than commenting on each of them, I post them here for your review.

Vice news recently did a great piece (and video!) on Franciscan sisters in Oldenburg, IN who are helping deploy solar in southern Indiana. Very inspiring, and I called Sister Claire to arrange a meeting to see if I can replicate her strategy! “A Franciscan nun is leading a fight for solar energy in Indiana.

David Roberts at Vox does a phenomenal job at capturing the scale and breadth of the current energy transition, as well as updating readers on the latest with climate science and policy: “Utilities fighting rooftop solar are only hastening their own doom.”

Lastly, the IndyStar just released four pieces covering the SEA309 saga and some subsequent investigations:

New Indiana solar law could cripple small businesses and customer saving

How Nevada ruined its solar industry – and what it’s doing to fix it

How other Midwestern states treat solar consumers (with video)

Indiana politicians got thousands in gifts while pushing solar policy

Where did Frida Kahlo park when she came to Plymouth?

Last fall,Β  I’ve attended an Active Living Workshop in Plymouth, hosted by Discover Plymouth. It has sparked a group of local residents to talk about ways we can make Plymouth safer and healthy by accommodating all modes of transportation, not just cars. To the extent that walking, cycling, and mobility are incentivized with infrastructure, we become a healthier community.

The group has already submitted applications for a couple grants. We recently attended a Complete Streets Workshop in Nappanee. What are complete streets? “Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. ” Click here to learn more.

One of the spin-off groups focused on artwork and decided to spruce up the alleyways. Frida Kahlo in Plymouth… who wudda thunk it?!

Photo by Yolanda’s Bar and Grill

But, on to the more pressing manner at hand. In re-imagining mobility around Plymouth, we need user input for people who live, work, or visit downtown. Is that you? Click here. It only takes a minute. This was posted 2 weeks ago, and I’m not sure how long they’ll keep it up, so don’t do it later, click now πŸ™‚

fall seed sorting

It’s harvest time. Not just for pumpkins, soybeans, and corn. Many native grasses and wildflowers have mature seeds ready for the picking.

It’s a big job, so we always appreciate some help.

Ancilla College students lending a hand

Seeds are picked according to species (carefully!), dried, and stored.

Fresh seeds of Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

“Letting nature take it’s course” is a common refrain. As a rule, there are many that are worse. But it’s not a good excuse for being scientifically lazy. What we do know is that humans, as they’ve been doing for thousands of years, have an active – not passive – role to play in managing landscapes. We can do it foolishly or wisely. Seed collection, mixing, and planting allows us to help usher in diverse communities of native plants that would not otherwise be present, even with many decades (or centuries) of waiting.

 

Maria Center residents and staff helping with seed cleaning.

When native seeds are collected, there are unwanted pods and chaff that it is helpful to remove. In order to “make hay while the sunshines,” we don’t often have time to do that in the field… it’s more effective to just get the seeds inside and dry before they fall to the ground.

This leaves rainy day work to be done. I appreciate having help from the residents of our independent living community, the Maria Center.

 

Think you extract the Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) seeds without sending the feathery pappus flying? Good luck!

Seeds are organized by species and stored in a cool, dark place.

Lots of future Monarch butterflies… we hope!

The next step is creating custom mixes of seeds based on soil type and land management goals. Sow during the dormant season. Then do it again!