Monday, Jun 25, 2018
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Energy

Clean-energy sector hurt by Ohio S.B. 310

Group says freeze on standards set state back

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The organization Environmental Entrepreneurs claims that Ohio Senate Bill 310 has put the clean-energy sector in a tailspin and is jeopardizing the jobs of 89,000 Ohioans.

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Since last June, when Ohio lawmakers froze the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, the state’s clean-energy sector has suffered an economic setback and will stay in jeopardy unless the freeze is lifted, an organization of business leaders, investors, and others said Tuesday.

“There are now 89,000 Ohioans working in the clean energy field at 7,200 companies in the state. Unfortunately, state policy has had a negative impact on that,” said Gail Parson, Midwest advocate for Environmental Entrepreneurs, an organization of business leaders and others that promotes environmental policy to drive economic growth.

The group released a report Tuesday that claims that since Ohio Senate Bill 310 was enacted a year ago the state has taken a step back in terms of renewable energy and those 89,000 clean energy jobs are now at risk.

“Investors that once saw Ohio as a good place to do business now are looking elsewhere,” said Ms. Parson, who was part of a teleconference held to discuss the report. Those looking elsewhere include solar and wind energy companies that had relocated to Ohio with the prospect of doing business here.

S.B. 310 froze for two years the state clean energy standards that were enacted in 2008. Those standards required utilities to slash customers’ power usage by 22 percent and get 25 percent of their power from renewable and advanced technology energy sources such as wind and solar.

The E2 group’s report said that since the freeze, which was supported by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and several utilities including FirstEnergy Corp., “the state’s clean energy industry has been in a tailspin.”

Job growth in solar, wind, and other renewable energy sectors in Ohio slowed to 1.5 percent in 2014. Clean-energy companies that are growing are increasingly going out of state for work.

Also, 11 wind projects that have been approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board have yet to break ground. And solar development has stopped, with new solar resources dropping below 100 kilowatts per month while industry averages for the past six months were at 1 megawatt or more per month.

Al Franz, president of Cleveland-based Dovetail Wind and Solar, which designs, builds, and installs wind turbines and solar panels, said the state’s renewable energy standards helped business at his firm soar to a high of 40 employees in 2012. However, since June the company has had to reduce its work force to 25 employees.

Senate Bill 310 caused “a major pullback and investment in Ohio” by companies that support major renewables projects, Mr. Franz said.

“Hopefully, legislators will see the mistake they made,” he added.

Contact Jon Chavez at: jchavez@theblade.com or 419-724-6128.

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