Good prospects for renewable energy progress in Ohio from a ACORE report from February 2016, entitled Why Ohio Policy Matters – Opportunities to Grow Renewable Energy Markets:
Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and other policies helped create a robust market for renewable energy generation. Over 430 megawatts (MW) of wind power and 100 MW of solar power have been constructed since the 2008 enactment of the RPS. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of Ohio’s renewable energy generation has been constructed since the enactment of the RPS.
Ohio currently ranks 26th in the amount of installed wind capacity in the country and 20th in the amount of installed solar capacity.1, 2
Due to Ohio’s traditional manufacturing strength, Ohio ranks 12th for the number of wind-related jobs (as of 2014) 3 and 10th for the number of solar jobs.4
The scale up of renewable energy in Ohio has attracted more than $1.3 billion in asset finance, private equity and venture capital to Ohio since 2008. 5 AWEA estimates that over $2.5 million in annual lease payments are made to Ohio landowners, providing additional income to rural communities.4
Renewable energy development has also created domestic supply chains that support domestic manufacturing, construction, and technology sectors and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Ohio is currently home to over 280 companies that are involved in the renewable energy industry, with 166 of those involved in manufacturing. 2,3 In addition, the technologies and products developed and manufactured in the U.S. help support the global energy industry and are exported around the world.
(1) AWEA, Ohio State Profiles, available at http://awea.files.cms-plus.com/FileDownloads/pdfs/Ohio.pdf.
(2) SEIA, Ohio State Profile, http://www.seia.org/state-solar-policy/ohio.
(3) AWEA, Ohio Wind Energy, available at http://www.awea.org/Resources/state.aspx?ItemNumber=5395.
(4) SEIA, Top Ten Solar States, available at http://www.seia.org/research-resources/2014-top-10-solar-states.
(5) Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The bad news is legislation was passed in 2014 to thwart progress:
Despite these gains, almost no new wind development and very little solar development have occurred in Ohio since 2014 due to S.B. 310, which froze Ohio’s RPS law for two years, and HB 483, which created unreasonable new setbacks for wind energy facilities. The uncertainty surrounding Ohio’s RPS is jeopardizing future investment in the state, while the onerous setbacks have prevented any new permit applications for wind energy from being approved.
The market for renewable energy is significant, notably from numerous Recent Policy Decisions Are Adversely Impacting Ohio’s Renewable Energy Industry Increased Setback Requirements for Wind Projects (HB 483)
Passed in 2014, HB 483 increased the setback requirement for projects of more than 50 MW to 1,125 feet (plus the length of the turbine blade) from the nearest property line. Prior to HB 483, the setback requirement was 550 feet from the property line and 1,300 from the nearest inhabited residence (already among the most restrictive requirements).
As shown below, the increased setback requirements virtually eliminates the ability to site and develop wind projects in Ohio.
While the bill does allow projects to seek waivers from individual landowners to reduce setback requirements, it has not proven feasible to negotiation hundreds of individual waivers to make project siting possible. Two-Year Freeze of Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (SB 310)
Passed in 2014, SB 310 froze Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard for two years and created uncertainty in the market. Policy Uncertainty Has Real Economic Impacts
Almost no new wind development and very little solar development has occurred in Ohio since 2014 due to HB 483 and SB 310, and developers and capital have migrated to states with more favorable policy environments and easier siting requirements.
The abandonment of a single 200 MW wind project would result in a loss of $126.7 million in economic activity; $4.3 million in property tax revenue; $600,000 in annual lease payments; $167,000 in sales tax revenue; and over 100 construction jobs.1
(1) Projections based on the Jobs and Economic Development Impact Model (JEDI) model developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
News about Bill 483 being passed was reported on in an article published 6/19/14 by Midwest Energy News:
With little discussion or fanfare, Ohio legislators have essentially put a stop to new wind farms in the state, industry experts say.
Governor John Kasich signed House Bill 483 on Monday, just days after signing another bill that freezes and alters Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. HB 483 includes revised setback provisions that will likely make new projects economically unfeasible.
The bill “basically zones new wind projects out of Ohio,” says Eric Thumma, Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs for Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.
Iberdrola’s Ohio wind farm projects include the 304 MW Blue Creek Wind Farm in Van Wert and Paulding County. About ten of its Ohio projects are fully permitted, but not yet constructed. The new law lets already-permitted projects continue, but only if no amendments to the permit become necessary.
Two additional projects in Putnam County and Van Wert County have not yet been permitted. Those probably will not go forward as a result of HB 483.
“It would take one of the projects from 50 turbines to 7, and another project from 75 to 3,” says Thumma. “The economics are not going to work if you have such reduced projects.”
Important Update: SB 310 was set to expire at the end of 2016, but Congress passed a new bill H.B. 554 to keep SB 310 active. Governor Kasich vetoed H.B. 554 and SB 310 is expired as of January 2017 as originally intended.
Excerpt from a press release by The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE):
Statement of R. Neal Elliott, Senior Director for Research
ACEEE commends Governor Kasich for his veto of H.B. 554, which would have undermined energy efficiency programs in the state. The governor’s courageous action in the face of opposition from legislators from his own party means that Ohio will maintain its position as an energy efficiency leader in the Midwest. In the last decade, expanded energy efficiency programs have saved Ohioans hundreds of millions of dollars, while supporting an estimated 78,000 jobs in the state
Opponents have moved to threaten this progress. In 2014, they passed SB 310, which put a freeze on the energy efficiency targets for two years. That freeze was due to expire at the end of this year, but the Ohio legislature passed another bill (HB 554) last week that, if enacted, would thwart state efforts to reduce energy waste.