Solar Wind Hydro Biomass Green Power Economics Environment Resources


Central Ohio Clean Energy Network
Lessons Learned

The Central Ohio Clean Energy Network (COCEN) is organized by Green Energy Ohio (GEO) with generous support from the Columbus Foundation. The COCEN 'Lessons Learned' is a collection of opinions and recommendations from many of the COCEN members - clean energy pioneers. 

Overview
In conjunction with the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) Solar Tour held every October,
Green Energy Ohio (GEO) organizes the Ohio Solar Tour with guided tours in many areas of the state, including Central Ohio. Based on the experience to host this annual event that provides the unique opportunity for the public to learn about clean energy technologies and products, green design and building techniques, and other sustainable features by visiting these sites, GEO felt it necessary to inform more Ohioans about these clean energy pioneers 365 days a year. COCEN and the information available on this website compliment the Ohio Solar Tour by achieving our goal of spreading the word about the reality and practicality of clean energy powering homes, businesses, schools, parks, and other public places that exist in your community.

This website should serve as a tool to glean the information and answer questions to pursue clean energy options. Each COCEN partner brings their own expertise to the group. We hope to avoid any "reinvention of the wheel" by showcasing these pioneers as case studies and documenting their 'lessons learned.'

Methodology
In Spring 2004, a COCEN questionnaire was distributed to learn more about local clean energy projects, both technical and anecdotal. All projects were accepted - successful, failed and in-progress - and included project timeline, process from beginning to end, barriers, possible 'pitfalls', and advice to others on using clean energy technologies, resources, and practices. GEO did not want to limit the number and diversity of the projects, so the information-gathering took longer than expected. Lessons Learned is a 'living' document, so it will continually be updated with new information and partners.

The COCEN members made the decision to keep the 'lessons learned' limited to this document. Practical advice and information was filtered from political and other opinions. The end result is informative case studies and testimonies of clean energy pioneers, but the inclusion of any business, individual or entity is not an endorsement by Green Energy Ohio.

Here is a condensed version of the questionnaire:

  • What type of project(s) do you have/ would you like to have?
  • When was it/ when will it be completed and by whom?
  • What is the size/output of the system?
  • What type of financing did you use, if any?
  • What partners worked with you to complete this project, if any?
  • What problems did you have/ are you having with the implementation, if any?
  • In what ways, if any, do you monitor the output of your system?
    Examples: Inspect gauges, consult meters, consult system reports, compare utility bills, etc.
  • Are there any educational/informational displays for the system?
    If Yes, please describe; If No, would you be interested in getting a display?
    Note-there are many formats and sizes: plaques, kiosks, interactive touch-screens, etc.
  • How aware of Green Energy Ohio (GEO) had you been previous to this? 
    Not, heard of, member, etc.
  • Would you be willing to promote the system to the general public? 
    If Yes, to what extent: Participate on the Ohio Solar Tour as a Tour Stop or 'Drive-by' site, being listed on the GEO website?
  • What is the typical reaction you get from people when you tell them about your project(s)?
  • How familiar/aware do you find people to be with clean energy possibilities?
  • What needs to be done to better address our energy issues in society?
  • What is impeding the progress of clean energy in Central Ohio, Ohio and/or the U.S.?
  • What needs to be done to advance clean energy in Central Ohio, Ohio and/or the U.S.?
  • Do you know of any other people/projects that could be included in the COCEN?


Results

One undeniable theme from the results is the reality that the pioneers are still continuing their quest for cleaner energy. While everyone would benefit from the use of clean energy, very few people are actually pursuing it. This fact re-emerges in many ways from the responses:

  • A lack of media exposure in a society that, largely, is unaware of clean energy resource potential.
  • An energy crisis will prompt an increased use of cleaner energy technologies.
  • Current energy prices are too low for the demand of cleaner energy alternatives.
  • Politicians would pursue the technology if the public demanded it, but this is not the present case.
  • Cost vs. benefit equation does not compute for most people.

A second theme surfaced that clean energy should be supported in society from the top-down (i.e. - cleaner energy will not likely hit the 'mainstream' through installation of individual systems, but needs institutional support from government and utilities). Understandably so, few people are dedicated to self-generation of energy and rely on the transmission grid to provide their energy needs. Responses also cited the need for more 'lobbying' and money for cleaner energy sources with the voting public behind the idea.

Another point was made that the economics of clean energy technologies need to be discussed and improved: The environmental benefits of using clean energy technologies will not single-handedly motivate the mainstream public to adopt these technologies.

No single, miraculous solution was discovered to alleviate the process of going 'green'; though this was not the intention of organizing the COCEN. The network was formed to educate more Ohioans, from a casual 'passer-by' to the clean energy pioneer ready to take another step in their process, about the availability, reality and potential of clean energy resources.

COCEN Online should aid in your discovery to learn the process, issues and barriers of using a wind, solar, biomass or other clean energy resource. COCEN is successful because of the open-door policy of its members to share their story to the public about their clean energy journey. The most efficient, clean energy technology could be operating in Central Ohio, but its adoption rate is limited to those that can spread the word.

By the way, Central Ohio is home to many great clean energy resources and projects. 
Please visit the COCEN webpages to learn more about your neighbors that are clean energy pioneers, and then help spread the word!

Thank you for your interest in the COCEN!

Please email GEO with questions and comments about the COCEN.