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Ohio House introduces solar bill to accelerate economic development and ratepayer relief

HB 197 kickstarts a statewide Community Solar Pilot project, allowing for more customer bill savings, grid modernization, and increased access to clean energy for all Ohioans

(Columbus, Ohio) — Ohio State Representatives James M. Hoops (R-Napoleon) and Sharon Ray (R-Wadsworth) today introduced HB 197, a bill that would allow for the development of community solar facilities under a statewide pilot program that would benefit all Ohioans. HB 197 and other solar initiatives have momentum throughout Ohio in part due to the DeWine Administration’s strong encouragement of the economic benefits Ohio-made solar panel manufacturing can bring the state.

“Our state is primed for community solar and all its economic benefits,” said Representative Hoops. “This new bill will ensure that projects across the state can generate clean energy, ratepayer savings, and local jobs in a fast-growing solar manufacturing industry right here in Ohio.”

Community solar projects are smaller scale installations of solar arrays sited on brownfields, former industrial sites, private lands, and other preferred areas in proximity to the electric customers they’re intended to serve, including households, small businesses, and public service organizations. Not to be confused with utility-scale solar, which is often owned by the utility, community solar allows landowners to receive consistent, predictable income if they lease their land for a project. 

“I am proud to work with Representative Hoops on this bill that turns our constituents’ priorities into important legislation that will make a lasting impact.” said Representative Ray. “Ohioans want jobs and the power to choose where their energy comes from. This bill brings both of those things plus more to our state.”

HB 197 will advance the state’s energy security goals all while increasing economic revenue. First, the bill establishes a pilot program that will consist of 1,500 megawatts of community solar, enough energy to power almost 300,000 homes. Subscribers to any community solar program will be eligible for a bill credit, usually equal to 10% – 20% savings, from their utility provider for their proportional amount of energy generated from the community solar facility. Second, the bill would make any community solar facilities built on brownfields eligible to receive grants to help cover costs associated with site preparation and construction. A working group will bring electric distribution utilities, consumers, and community solar industry representatives together to engage in proactive conversation to ensure the pilot program operates smoothly.

“Ohio has the potential to lead the region in community solar, but past legislation did not create ample opportunities. This bill, in its establishment of a pilot program, would generate energy across the entire state — bringing residents bill savings and the state billions in economic development and millions in local tax revenue.” said Carlo Cavallaro, Midwest Regional Director at Coalition for Community Solar (CCSA)

Over the past decade, the number of states that have enacted policies to support community solar has expanded from just a few to 22 states, including Washington, D.C. States that currently have bipartisan or Republican-sponsored bills that would open new community solar markets include Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. A collective 5.6 gigawatts (GW) of generation capacity has been installed to date, and Wood Mackenzie’s most recent US community solar market outlook predicts that there will be 6.2 GWdc power installed across the country by the end of the year.