Ohio: high in the middle, round on the ends & solar everywhere else

Take a look around and you’ll start to see that things are looking decidedly brighter for solar in Ohio.  2009 was the first year that state law required utilities to generate a portion of their power from the sun.  With a solar energy target now in place, we’re working hard to build the road to that renewable energy future.

So what’s on the solar agenda in Ohio?

First, expect to see new solar rebate programs from your utility as it works to meet its renewable energy requirements. Vote Solar is working with the Ohio Consumer Council and others to make sure potential solar customers get a fair deal.

Second, there are a number of issues at play in the state legislature to smooth the way for solar adoption:

House Bill 113 aims to give solar a boost in schools. If the bill is passed, school districts with more than 5,000 students will be required to power some of their electricity through solar.  That means 71 Ohio schools would start tapping the sun for their electricity.

Senate Bill 223 would expand the state’s municipal financing option (PACE) to include energy efficiency investments. These PACE programs help property owners cover the upfront cost of making energy improvements. It’s an exciting new way for cities and counties to support a local green economy and job growth. Last year, this policy marked a big win for solar in Ohio, and we’re excited to see those benefits expanded to include efficiency.

And last but not least, Governor Strickland’s State of the State called for a personal property tax exemption for solar generating energy projects.  Removing this obscure property tax would clear the way for the development of solar farms. We expect to see a bill introduced shortly to address this remaining barrier to large-scale solar in Ohio.

Now we don’t want to sugarcoat Ohio solar policy.  There have been bumps in the road.  Three utilities- AEP, First Energy and Dayton Power & Light,  asked to be excused from their 2009 solar generation requirement.  We formally disagreed with the granting of a solar waiver.   The utilities stated the lack of approved RPS rules, however the solar generation requirement has been clear from day one.  We do expect to see those missing solar electricity hours generated in 2010.

We’ll need your help to pass these bills.  Stay tuned and get ready to go solar.