To the editor:

Renewable energy projects in Ohio, including solar, are facing a large obstacle. Solar energy is a valuable asset for the state, and as Senate Bill 52 (SB 52) moves through the legislature, this puts statewide benefits at risk.

Aside from being a carbon-free resource, Lazard’s recent study states new large-scale solar energy projects are one of the cheapest forms of energy today. Solar energy provides jobs, tax revenue, a boost for local and state economies, and a diversified economic energy portfolio for ratepayers and power producers. Additionally, solar projects provide funds for school districts through a payment in lieu of tax program. School districts near solar installations receive millions of tax revenue that is often used for new equipment and invested in new education programs.

Solar projects also bring an influx of local spending in host communities. Construction workers employed by the solar industry spend money at local businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and hotels, creating a boost in local income for small business owners and the local economy.

Farmers and other private landowners enjoy the extra source of income that solar energy provides. Many farms have been in operation for decades, passed down from generation to generation, and solar energy ensures it stays in the family. The right for farmers to use their land as they see fit is vital to the longevity and success of Ohio farmers and their operations. SB 52 gives the government control of private property, rather than its owner, jeopardizing private property rights for all.

According to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), Ohio has approximately 360 MW of operating solar energy, with a plethora of room for growth. Considering the opportunity to grow solar capacity in Ohio, its competitive solar capacity factor relative to its PJM state counterparts, and the size and availability of land within the state, Ohio is a prime location and strong competitor for solar within the PJM market.

If SB 52 were to limit solar development, Ohio will lose out on this economic momentum and all the benefits that come with it. Residents and businesses will lose jobs and tax revenue, school districts would lose the financial opportunity to improve education for students, and landowners would lose their rights. The market for solar is alive and well in Ohio, and SB 52 would push these economic drivers elsewhere.

Nathan LaFrance
Vice President
State Policy, Clean Grid Alliance

(Submitted by Kelley Welf, Communications Director, Delivering Midwest Renewable Energy, 570 Asbury Street, Suite 201, St. Paul, Minn. 55104)