“I have not looked to Illinois for guidance policy on anything because I’ve rarely found a time when they’ve done anything right.” 

That scathing review comes from Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Wheatfield, who authored the latest legislation determining net metering in the state of Indiana. The conservative lawmaker looked at a number of other states as he considered how and to what extent Indiana should phase out net metering — the credit given to solar customers for excess energy they produce — in the state.

The move was staunchly opposed by solar customers and installers, and an IndyStar investigation has revealed that the new law has created uncertainty and upheaval to a once-promising industry.

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It may not always be sunny in the Midwest, but states across the region are looking for ways to capture the rays that do reach them. Here’s a look at what they’re doing:

• Illinois: An effort to repeal net metering narrowly failed late last year. But what lawmakers here did pass was the Future Energy Jobs Act, which went into effect in June. Among the many provisions, including $750 million devoted to renewable energy jobs training, the law establishes a “community solar” program aimed at bringing solar panels to all income levels. It also mandates that 25 percent of two utilities’ energy come from renewable sources by 2025, and requires that 4,300 megawatts of new solar and wind be built in the state by 2030.

• Ohio: A bill that would have frozen Ohio’s renewable portfolio standards was vetoed by the governor in December. Debates around their net metering are similar to those heard here in Indiana: Residential generators are putting financial burden on those who don’t generate. As recently as last year, American Electric Power cited this argument when they asked the state regulators to approve an increase on the fixed charge customers receive on their bill, no matter their energy use.

• Iowa: Last summer, the Iowa Utilities Board ordered two investor-owned utilities to create pilot programs for net metering, which will be in place for three years while the state studies the effects of the policy. As part of the order, the Board increased the capacity of net metered facilities to generate. Any excess generation is set to be cashed out on an annual basis.

• Minnesota: This state stands out as the only one to employ the policy of aggregate net metering, which allows a single generating customer to offset the energy use of multiple meters on their property. Beyond that, solar power in Minnesota is growing at break-neck pace, with the state’s solar energy capacity raising 80 percent in the first quarter of 2017, according to the Star Tribune. They are also home to the Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance, which views the state as a leader in the battery storage industry, the latest frontier in renewable energy efficiency.

• Michigan: Earlier this year, the Michigan Public Service Commission started a process to examine how to equitably implement self-generation policy in the state. The review period will be overseen by a group of diverse stakeholders who will also be tasked with determining if solar generators are in fact subsidized by other ratepayers.

• Wisconsin: The fight over distributed solar here came down in the arena of fixed charges. In 2014, the state granted a 75 percent to 85 percent increase in the monthly fixed charge for two utilities, though a judge later threw out one of those approvals. Still, electricity prices in Wisconsin are some of the highest in the region, which helps drive customers to solar.

Emily Hopkins covers the environment for the IndyStar. Contact Emily at (317) 444-6409 or emily.hopkins@indystar.com. Follow her on Twitter: @_thetextfiles. IndyStar’s environmental reporting project is made possible through the generous support of the nonprofit Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.