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Lawmakers want a solar panel, wind turbine recycling study and a Statehouse energy audit

The roof of a residential home. Attached to the roof is a series of about three dozen flat solar panels.
Pujanak
/
Wikimedia Commons
Though solar panels can last about 30 years, the U.S. doesn't have a cost-effective way of recycling them right now — which could lead to a lot of waste.

Everyone was in agreement on two environmental bills that passed out of a state Senate committee on Thursday. One would require an energy audit of the Statehouse. Another requests a study on solar panel and wind turbine recycling. Both passed unanimously and no one spoke in opposition.

The U.S. hasn’t found a cost-effective way to recycle solar panels and wind turbines yet. And that could mean a lot of waste in the next 20 to 30 years as the less efficient ones operating today reach the end of their useful life.

The bill would direct the state Department of Environmental Management and the Utility Regulatory Commission to study the issue and a potential state program to manage it. The bill’s author, Sen. Greg Walker (R-Columbus), said the U.S. and Indiana need to get ahead of this.

“We have concerns about the environment, concerns about industrial waste and we tend to only deal with them once we have a significant problem," he said.

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Members of the Association of Indiana Solid Waste Management Districts, the Hoosier Environmental Council, and the Citizens Action Coalition all expressed support for the bill.

Another bill that passed the committee would require the state to hire a company to do an energy audit of the Indiana Statehouse. The bill’s author, Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington), said a lot of local communities are looking at how they can reduce the amount of heat and electricity they use.

“I count 30 light fixtures just in our office area in the Senate and what my question is are we looking at ourselves as leaders in this and considering if we are operating this building and our government center next door in the most efficient manner possible," he said.

If lawmakers decide to fix things like leaky windows as a result of the audit, it could save taxpayers money.

The Hoosier Environmental Council and Citizens Action Coalition also expressed support for the energy audit bill as did Earth Charter Indiana. The Indiana Department of Administration — which would be tasked with finding a company to perform the audit — remains neutral on the bill.

Contact reporter Rebecca at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

Rebecca Thiele covers statewide environment and energy issues.