Ohio is tragically missing out on the clean energy revolution. We could be creating more good-paying jobs, revitalizing rural communities, reducing energy bills, and improving our air and water quality. Instead, we rank #38 in renewable energy production and #31 for energy efficiency. This is simply unacceptable.
Cleveland’s own Charles Brush created the world’s first electric wind turbine in the 19th century to power his home. We cannot allow other states to keep gaining a competitive advantage with companies like Amazon and Apple, which want to expand their operations in places with renewable energy sources to power their businesses.
In addition to being a jobs engine, clean energy and energy efficiency are key to addressing climate change that threatens the Great Lakes and Ohio farmland. Ohio should be leading the way, not losing jobs to Michigan and Minnesota. Renewable energy and energy efficiency can play a key role in creating manufacturing jobs and revitalizing rural Ohio. We need to tell companies that Ohio is open for business once again in wind energy, solar energy, distributed generation, and cogeneration.
Strengthen Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard: In 2008, Ohio adopted one of the nation’s most ambitious renewable energy programs. An OSU study found the program was an economic success, spurring $160 million in annual GDP growth and creating over 3,200 jobs. Consumers also saved over $1.7 billion in electric bills, reducing electricity use by 2.6% and overall energy demand by 2%. In a handout to special interests and a sharp turn away from our future, in 2014 the Ohio legislature passed the first nationwide law to halt renewable portfolio targets. The law put a “freeze” on these goals for two years despite opposition from many Ohio businesses and manufacturers such as Honda, Nestle, and Whirlpool. When that freeze was finally lifted in 2016, Ohio had fallen well behind in the clean energy race as Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan moved aggressively forward to attract clean-energy employers to their states. As governor, Rich will double our renewable energy and energy efficiency targets by 2025.
Stop Over-Regulation that has Halted Ohio’s Wind Energy DevelopmentTo protect the status quo, in 2014 the supposedly anti-regulation Ohio legislature passed the nation’s most heavy-handed government blockade to developing wind energy. This secretive, last-minute amendment doubled the property line setbacks for wind turbines and has brought new commercial wind projects to a virtual halt. Ohio lost $4.2 billion in economic opportunities. A potential 13,000 jobs were also sacrificed. The Payments In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) revenue over the life of these projects was estimated to be $660 million - and 70% of that would have gone to schools. Another $440 million could have been available to farmers and landowners who would have hosted wind turbines. The legislature’s protection of of special interests has significantly cost rural Ohio.
Support Farmers and Public Bodies Like Schools as Sites for More Clean Energy: Many farmers could locate one or more wind turbines on their lands without impairing their existing operations and providing some additional steady income or reduction of costs. Schools and other public bodies could add solar panels to their buildings or wind turbines on their property to add income or reduce costs. The state should use bond financing to provide the support and expertise needed to boost construction and lower the cost of such projects.
Invest in Solar Power to Create More Local Jobs: Even with public policies that have undermined the state’s commitment to renewable energy, solar jobs in Ohio continue to grow. A stronger Renewable Portfolio Standard in Ohio law will support more proposals such as AEP’s project to create 400 MW of solar power in Appalachian Ohio, tied to bringing in more solar supply chain businesses. The project will create permanent manufacturing jobs in the region with a commitment to hiring Ohio military veterans. Under Rich’s leadership, the state will pursue more projects that create good construction and maintenance jobs. These efforts will also encourage related support businesses to locate here, as is true right now in other midwestern states. These initiatives will also encourage other businesses from elsewhere to locate in Ohio, both as a matter of corporate preference and because they want reliable and predictable energy bills from power sources that are based on free energy creation, such as from the sun and the wind.
Betty Sutton was a champion of clean energy policy in the Congress, where she led efforts to pass clean energy legislation as a member of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.
As Ohio Treasurer, Rich Cordray established a central inventory of state properties, which allowed counties across Ohio to use the inventory to consider potential sites to pursue development of new power sources. As Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Rich worked to make sure that leases for solar projects weren’t being fraudulently misused to harm consumers and responsible businesses in the growing solar industry.