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Ohio's Solar Power Outlook: Policy Can Keep Clouds Away

Ohio has over 200 solar companies employing more than 4,300 people (Solar Energy Industries Association.) Credit: pippalou/morguefile.com
Ohio has over 200 solar companies employing more than 4,300 people (Solar Energy Industries Association.) Credit: pippalou/morguefile.com
September 4, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Party cloudy with a chance of progress? One could say that's the solar power outlook for Ohio, based on the findings of a new report.

The analysis released this week from the Frontier Group shows solar capacity per capita doubled in Ohio between 2012 and 2014. But report co-author and policy analyst Gideon Weissman notes in its national rankings, the Buckeye State still fell down a spot to 25th.

"One of the reasons Ohio has slipped is probably because of the clean-energy freeze, which was driving solar-energy growth in the state - particularly through its standard that required at least some of the renewable electricity Ohio is getting would be generated in state," he says.

Under pressure from utility companies, commerce groups and conservative political organizations for further investigation, state lawmakers rolled back the in-state generation requirement last summer.

Supporters of clean energy say the move stopped development in its tracks – development that had been boosting investment and creating savings for ratepayers. Opponents argued the standards were expensive and ineffective.

According to Frontier Group's research, Ohio's 103 megawatts of cumulative solar capacity is comparable to the solar capacity of the United States military. Weissman says the growth of solar power is not tied to the amount of sun shining on a state, but strong policies promoting the use of solar among homeowners, businesses and utilities.

"That's why Vermont ranks number seven overall for solar capacity per capita," says Weissman. "Florida, the Sunshine State, doesn't have a renewable electricity standard. That's why they've seen solar energy growth lag."

He adds that not only is solar power reliable and emission-free, it's also putting people to work. Data from the Solar Energy Industries Association shows there are more than 200 solar companies employing more than 4,300 people in Ohio.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH