Ohio Legislators Hear Testimony in Support of Establishing New Community Solar Program

November 10th, 2021

Hearing features broad, diverse stakeholders as proponents of HB 450

(Columbus, OH) — The Ohio House Public Utilities Committee today heard testimony from an array of organizations supporting legislation that would enable a community solar program in the state. Sponsored by Representative Brian Baldridge (R-Winchester) and Laura Lanese (R-Grove City), HB 450 would update Ohio State Energy Policy to allow community solar projects up to 10 megawatts (MW) and up to 45 MW if developed on distressed areas such as former industrial sites and landfills. Proponents who testified in favor of HB 450 included the Coalition for Community Solar Access, Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Ohio, the Ohio Sustainable Business Council, and other local advocates.

“This bill is important to Ohio because it will unlock the private sector to help create a more resilient energy grid, provide economic benefits to all Ohioans – from landowners in rural parts of the state to potential subscribers in urban areas- and make the benefits of solar energy accessible while saving customers money on their electricity bills,” said Jim Murray, Midwest Director for Coalition for Community Solar Access.

Community solar projects are small solar arrays located within a community where multiple customers can subscribe and receive a credit on their utility bill for their share of the power that is produced, just as if the panels were on their own roof. Approximately 75 percent of American households don’t have access to solar power because they either rent, live in a multi-tenant building, or have roofs unable to host a solar system. Through community solar, people can be connected to a local solar installation that provides subscribers with equal access to the economic benefits of solar generation.

Tom Bullock, Executive Director, Citizens Utility Board of Ohio, a non-profit, non-partisan statewide consumer advocacy organization representing residential and small business utility customers, said HB 450 will not only allow large companies like Eaton and Proctor & Gamble to save money, but that the bill “allows medium and small businesses in supply chains in the automotive sector, for example, to also get in on a price advantage.” Citing CUB’s support, he concluded that HB 450 provides “access to new options for more consumers at a reasonable price.”

In her testimony supporting HB 450, Sarah Spence, Executive Director of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum (OCEF) told legislators, “HB 450 is a common-sense,  conservative piece of legislation that supports the economic expansion of affordable, reliable, Ohio-based energy,” adding, “economic benefits have conservatives across the country championing similar community solar legislation.”

The hearing follows a sponsor hearing held in October at which Representative Baldridge and Representative Lanese explained their legislation and outlined the benefits to Ohioans.

Community solar “diversifies our electricity supply and thereby enhances our national security,” Rep. Lanese explained, adding that the program would also create jobs and respond to the growing demand for renewable energy from the business community.

Representative Baldridge argued for the ability of HB 450 to revitalize distressed sites. “After numerous drives past the capped [coal] ash ponds left behind by these closures in my district, I could not help but think that these are the kinds of sites we should be looking to for energy generation projects. This bill simply opens up another avenue for economic and energy development here in Ohio,” he said.

If passed, the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO) will develop rules to implement a community solar program within six months of the governor’s signature.

About Coalition for Community Solar Access

The Coalition for Community Solar Access is a national Coalition of businesses and non-profits working to expand customer choice and access to solar for all American households and businesses through community solar. Our mission is to empower every American energy consumer with the option to choose local, clean, and affordable community solar. We work with customers, utilities, local stakeholders, and policymakers to develop and implement policies and best practices that ensure community solar programs provide a win, win, win for all, starting with the customer. For more information, visit https://www.communitysolaraccess.org and follow the group on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.