The Ohio Legislature recently concluded the busiest portion of its work session, adopting budgets for state government, as well as far-reaching energy legislation. Throughout the session, chambers of commerce actively engaged legislators and state government leaders about the opportunities provided by clean energy for their local economies and communities.
In particular, chamber leaders, economic development officials, and community stakeholders traveled to Columbus to meet with legislators and deliver testimony before House and Senate committees about the investment opportunities provided by renewable and energy efficiency projects and about the importance of reasonable regulations, as well. Additionally, chamber leaders hosted the Toledo Blade for a wind farm tour, co-signed a letter to the governor and legislative leadership, and hosted an energy briefing call with Senator Dolan, all to represent the economic benefits of clean energy.
"For future growth, Ohio needs to take full advantage of this fast-growing sector that's delivered more than 112,000 new jobs and billions in investment to our state," wrote chamber leaders in a letter to state officials, which also warned against implementing "roadblocks or burdensome development regulations."
Legislators heard the concerns of chamber leaders, resulting in two positive outcomes within Ohio's controversial and extensively negotiated House Bill 6:
First, removal of a harmful township referendum amendment for wind farms, which would have set a dangerous precedent in that it could have been applied to any type of energy development. (The Ohio Chamber of Commerce also supported the removal of this amendment.)
Second, the legislation preserved significant portions of the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), a long-term, market-based investment signal to help finance utility-scale wind and solar energy projects. Early drafts of HB 6 eliminated the RPS, but the final version partially retained it, lowering targets from 12.5 to 8.5 percent and requiring utilities to meet these targets one year earlier.
What now? There's a possibility House Bill 6 may not become law. Presently, a referendum to repeal the law is seeking to get on the ballot in 2020, as reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
What's Next? Legislation expected this fall could adjust burdensome wind turbine setback regulations that stand in the way of new projects. Senator Matt Dolan has championed this issue, which draws support from across the state and was considered, although not passed, in the 2017-2018 legislative session.
If you would like more information about any of the above or about how your chamber can be involved in clean energy development or energy efficiency programs, please contact Tom Bullock, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Susan Munroe, email@example.com.