by Blake Gardiner: The third annual Renewable Energy Lobby Day (RELD) took place on February 5th, 2021, and was a resounding success! Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light collaborated with several other organizations to host experts on renewable energy and policy. This shed light on the gravity of upcoming energy legislation this session. The momentum before and after the event was moving as it snowballed into many attendees scheduling time to advocate their state legislators (Click here to find and contact your legislator: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/).
Due to COVID-19 precautions, the event did not entail attendees physically rallying together, listening to proponents for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and spreading throughout the statehouse to have meetings with their representatives. However, adapting to Zoom emboldened our message because participants could join the event and partake in discussions with their legislators from the comfort of their home!
In addition to opening the door for more participants, we were able to have a diverse panel of impactful speakers from across the state tout the benefits of renewables and explain the policies affecting them. Policy Analyst Ben Inskeep laid out what was at stake, navigating participants through issues such as net metering. This was materialized by Indiana State Senator Shelli Yoder (D-40) as she provided insight into her solar-friendly bill: SB 420. In advocating for renewables, our broad spectrum of speakers embodied the equally wide-ranging benefits of renewables. Ariana Whitaker of Fronius International (an Indiana-based manufacturer that creates parts for solar panels), expressed the economic importance and opportunity that lie for Hoosiers in the solar industry by stating that Indiana hosts 3,100 solar-related jobs with the opportunity to multiply. As Ariana said, “a state that supports clean energy, supports job growth.” The executive director of the Indiana Conservative Alliance for Energy, Tim Phelps added to the economic motives for supporting net metering and solar by stating the inherent free market and pro-energy principles. Denise Rahman of the NAACP Environmental Climate Justice Program (ECJP) highlighted that renewables extend beyond economics and into communities. Her discussion of black to green pipelines creating equity to disadvantaged communities brought new meaning to the word renewables, linking it to a renewal in economically stressed communities as well. Closing this event was Susan Sirnic, a chair of Solarize Evansville and solar advocate who was responsible for getting solar at her congregation. In defending renewables and energy efficiency, Susan Sirnic gave a powerful call to the morality of protecting our communities and our planet through being mindful of our energy practices. Susan concluded by leaving us with the thought-provoking quote by theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The ultimate test of a moral society is the world it leaves behind for its children.” If you weren’t able to make it, you can view the recorded event below and take up this call to action by contacting your legislators!