Big utilities try to tilt solar energy market in their favor

Markets Associated Press

  • The solar farm at the Indianapolis International Airport is pictured, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, in Indianapolis. Duke Energy and other utilities are backing measures in the Indiana Legislature and several other states that would eventually end the ability of small operators to produce solar power. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

    The solar farm at the Indianapolis International Airport is pictured, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, in Indianapolis. Duke Energy and other utilities are backing measures in the Indiana Legislature and several other states that would eventually end the ... ability of small operators to produce solar power. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) (The Associated Press)

  • The solar farm at the Indianapolis International Airport is pictured, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, in Indianapolis. Duke Energy and other utilities are backing measures in the Indiana Legislature and several other states that would eventually end the ability of small operators to produce solar power. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

    The solar farm at the Indianapolis International Airport is pictured, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017, in Indianapolis. Duke Energy and other utilities are backing measures in the Indiana Legislature and several other states that would eventually end the ... ability of small operators to produce solar power. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) (The Associated Press)

Indiana's large utility companies want state lawmakers to pass a law that critics say would muscle out smaller competitors from the emerging solar energy market.

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Solar power provides only about 1 percent of the country's energy, but employment in the industry is growing rapidly.

On Thursday, Indiana legislators will begin debating a proposed law that would eventually eliminate much of the financial benefit Indiana homeowners, businesses and even some churches reap from harvesting the sun's rays. Critics say it would tilt the market in favor of utilities.

One of those big companies, Duke Energy Corp., is seeking regulatory approval in Indiana and several other states including North Carolina, Florida, Kentucky and Ohio, to revamp the market.