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Ohio House Bill 251

Ohio's New Governor to get New Advanced Energy Law &

Survey Showing Consumer Support for Renewable Energy
January/February 2007 Green Energy Ohio Bi-Monthly Report

 

Upon taking office in January 2007, Ohio's new Governor Ted Strickland and Lt. Governor Lee Fisher are receiving a new energy law and statewide consumer opinion survey - both empowering the new Administration to expand clean energy and related economic and environmental benefits.

 

HB 251 - Advanced Energy Law.  In the last days of his term, Governor Robert Taft was expected to sign into law Substitute House Bill 251 passed by the Ohio General Assembly on December 14, 2006. The Energy Loan Fund becomes the Advanced Energy Program expanding funding not only for grants (previously capped at 10 percent from the Energy Loan Fund) but also creating a new rulemaking for "energy production incentives." State financial assistance is tied to the Ohio Development Director determining that "the project will create new jobs or preserve existing jobs in this state or use innovative technologies or materials." 

 

This new funding program extending from the original loan fund will expire in 2010. Funds are generated from a "distribution wires" or "system benefit" charge to all customers of Ohio's investor-owned electric utilities.

 

"Advanced Energy Projects" are defined in the enacted bill to include, "but not limited to, wind power; geothermal energy; solar thermal energy; and energy produced by micro turbines in distributed generation applications with high electric efficiencies, by combined heat and power applications, by fuel cells powered by hydrogen derived from wind, solar, biomass, hydroelectric, landfill gas, or geothermal sources, or by solar electric generation, landfill gas, or hydroelectric generation.  See Sub. H.B. 251, including other clean energy provisions [CLICK HERE].

 

Sub. HB 251's expanded Advanced Energy definition and code provisions for broader financial incentives represents the first major expansion of state support for clean energy since the Energy Loan Fund was amended to allow 10 percent of the ELF for distributed energy grants in HB 133 signed in December 2003.

In 1999, Ohio's SB 3 electric deregulation law used the words "small scale renewables project" as the only reference to renewable energy in the entire deregulation law (while other states were enacting renewable energy portfolios or RPS - still Ohio's missing major incentive for a robust clean energy market - See RPS state-by-state update [CLICK HERE].

ODOD-OEE Renewable Energy Receptivity-Consumer Research released on December 12, 2006 by the Ohio Department of Development, Office of Energy Efficiency features a random sample survey of 1,019 Ohio consumers. The survey of Ohioans in every county shows consumers need and want more information about alternative energy with a majority concerned over environmental impacts of energy use and willing to pay more on their electric bills for alternative/clean energy. See survey and key findings [CLICK HERE]..

 

Here are several highlights:

 

Similar to a December 2004 statewide study of consumer focus groups, the 2006 survey finds: "Well over half feel that to utilize renewable sources of energy, Ohioans must build their own systems." 

 

When queried on support for required use of renewable energy by utilities (also known as advanced or renewable energy portfolio standards), the survey found that: "Ohioans also express willingness to pay extra for renewable sources of energy used to generate their own electricity, and to do so in several ways. They feel that since everyone benefits from renewable energy, everyone should help pay for it, not just those who use it. Survey respondents say they would pay, on average, about $15 a month more for their electric bill if their utility company incorporated renewable energy sources into the energy mix; and they indicate they would be willing to switch utility suppliers, if needed, as well as pay extra, if so doing assured a portion of their home's electricity was generated by renewable sources. Taken together, these multiple indicators paint a robust picture of support. Note the qualitative report also stated Ohioans were willing to pay up to 10 percent more a month on their electric bill to access alternative/clean energy, which according to our means for monthly electric bills would be about $10 a month - if they are certain of the benefits to themselves, their family and their community."