GEO In the News


Oberlin councilwoman receives green award

Elyria Chronicle Journal – Jodie Weinberger – May 3, 2017
Oberlin Councilwoman Sharon Pearson was named Green Energy Ohio Volunteer of the Year through her work with The Oberlin Project.

Pearson will receive her award Thursday in Columbus during the Green Energy Ohio 17th annual awards for her contribution to advance Ohio renewable energy.

Green Energy Ohio is a non-profit organization that promotes economically and environmentally sustainable policies and practices.

Sharon Pearson Elyria Chronicle 2017Pearson announced she was leaving the Oberlin Project about a month after the organization said it would be closing its office.  The organization, which was founded in 2009, is in the process of transitioning its work to other entities.  Pearson has since taken a role as the community outreach manager for the Lorain County Urban League.

Sean Hayes, executive director of The Oberlin Project said he was excited for Pearson to receive this recognition.

“I think it’s fantastic, and its emblematic of the countless hours of both professional and volunteer work that Sharon has put into Oberlin and greater Ohio for the past six, seven years and longer.” Hayes said.

Pearson was a program manager for The Oberlin Project since its inception.

The Oberlin Project was a joint effort of the city, Oberlin College and private businesses to promote sustainability.

The work that the project started will be given to other groups to continue.  Over the past eight years, the Oberlin Project helped the city develop a climate action plan and collaborated on projects including an 11-acre solar array and the city’s farmers market.

Former state utility official has praise for Hamilton program
Dayton Daily News – Mike Rutledge – May 1, 2017
HAMILTON – William Spratley, the first person to serve as Ohio’s Consumers’ Counsel, had praise for green efforts by Hamilton’s utilities, and also for Hamilton’s Director of Public Utilities, Kevin Maynard.

Hamilton, through a contract with Columbus-based Efficiency Smart, has been encouraging the use of energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances, and has done so effectively enough that the city’s electric utilities have:

* Reduced their electric load by 1.53 percent over two years;
* Implemented energy-efficiencies that should save residential, commercial, industrial customers $10.3 million over the lifetimes of those energy-efficient devices; and
* Cut the need for enough electricity to reduce the amount of carbon-dioxide emission by an estimated 216.97 million pounds over the products’ lifetimes.

RELATED: Hamilton energy effort lowers bills, spares power

Spratley’s Office of Consumers’ Counsel, whose job with the state from the mid-1970s until 1993 was to help public-utility customers across Ohio advocate for lower utility rates, often criticized shareholder-owned utilities for not doing enough to encourage use of energy-efficient products to help their customers reduce their energy bills.LEDs Hamilton

He was pleased to hear about Hamilton’s work with Efficiency Smart, in a contract through the organization American Municipal Power, to do just that. Spratley, who knows Maynard from his time as utilities director for Bowling Green, Ohio, said he wasn’t surprised, given Maynard’s past.

Bowling Green “was the first utility in the state — of any kind of utility — to put up (utility-scale) wind turbines, and that was right before he took over,” said Spratley, who since 2001 has been executive director of Green Energy Ohio, a not-for-profit organization that advocates for environmentally and economically sustainable energy practices.

“I think Hamilton is clearly one of the greenest municipals in the state,” Spratley said. “The others are kind-of little liberal college towns, like Oberlin and Bowling Green.”

RELATED: Hamilton creating energy through power of moving water

Green Energy Ohio is working in southwestern Ohio to encourage small businesses and non-profit organizations to do energy audits that can help them determine how economical it would be for them to use more energy-efficient devices.

“One of the hard parts is to get the efficiency to as many of your customers as you can,” Spratley said. “It sounds like Hamilton is accomplishing that.”

Spratley said he considers switching to light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs “the first thing people should do — and the price has come down so dramatically.”

“I think that’s a good example, what Hamilton’s doing,” Spratley said. “The municipal utilities have been ahead of the big utilities now, for years, particularly in renewable energy, and part of that, I think, is they’re part of the government, and they’re always smaller than the big utility.”

RELATED: Hamilton electric an attractive lure for some companies

“But when I think of Hamilton, the first thing I think of is the big hydro systems that are feeding power in there, that are renewable energy,” Spratley said. “Anything you can do to save energy reduces the carbon footprint, and I think that’s a good thing. I think that’ll put Hamilton on the map, in terms of how green it is.”

The city operates three environmentally friendly hydroelectric facilities: Two on the Ohio River, at the Greenup and Meldahl locks and dams, and an older, smaller one along the Great Miami River.

MORE: A closer look at Meldahl’s massive scale

Uncover Potential Energy Conservation Opportunities in Your Facilities with the Member Audit Program
Tipp News Daily – Energy Optimizers USA – February 17, 2017
In partnership with Green Energy Ohio and Ohio Interfaith Power & Light, Energy Optimizers, USA is excited to offer a special low cost – or even no cost* – comprehensive energy audit program to select Duke Energy customers in southern Ohio.

This just-announced Energy Audit Program provides ASHRAE Level 2 energy auditing services completed by professional and certified energy, mechanical, and electrical engineers. From this audit, the building owner will receive the appropriate information required to evaluate the potential energy conservation opportunities, including: utility analysis, facility benchmarking, facility walkthrough and data collection, environmental savings associated with energy conservation, financial analysis, and grant, rebate, and tax identification. Customers will also be informed of financing mechanisms and assistance in securing the desired approach. Depending on their needs, some financing options are: Commons Energy, Energy Savings Service Agreement, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), Ohio House Bill 264, Ohio House Bill 153, or bank financing, among others.

*Customers will receive an invoice for the cost of the energy audit, with 120 days noted as the payment due date. If an energy savings project is initiated within 120 days, the entire cost of the energy audit will be waived.

febcd171d29c5013a0233d95ea11b767The target population of this special Energy Audit Program includes the following Ohio counties: Adams, Brown, Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, Highland, Montgomery, Preble and Warren. This is a geographic area underserved by energy efficiency companies due to multiple barriers, including limited capital resources, lack of expertise and an understanding of the benefits of energy efficiency, confusion with energy service providers offering a commodity service, and cultural barriers.  “This is a fantastic opportunity for small businesses and non-profits to find opportunities to save money at their facilities,” Julie Birchfield, Program Manager, Energy Optimizers, USA said. “The ASHRAE Level 2 audit is very comprehensive. Upon completion, the customer will receive a detailed analysis report and our team will recommend effective solutions. We know that it can be a complicated process, and we take pride in putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes and simplifying it.”

The Energy Audit Program involves collaboration with Green Energy Ohio (GEO) and Interfaith Power and Light (IFPL), two key local organizations that will assist in outreach and client identification. GEO is a non-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting environmentally and economically sustainable energy policies and practices in Ohio. IFPL is a non-for-profit, whose goal is to empower a religious response to climate change and to promote energy conservation and energy efficiency. Energy Optimizers, USA works with educational, governmental, commercial and industrial customers to implement energy savings opportunities to reduce operational costs, including lighting retrofits, renewable energy projects, HVAC retrofit projects, building controls and energy education programs.

NOTE: Register now for the March 29thGEO Southwest Ohio Clean Energy Forum at Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, Ohio to learn more about the Energy Audit Program and area solar developments

Innovation Spotlight: Third Sun Solar
Columbus CEO Magazine – Kevin Kidder – February 7, 2017
Solar panel company began in an attic and now installs in 14 states.

Michelle and Geoff Greenfield found the perfect plot of land in Athens County and were preparing to build a home. There were no power lines nearby, so the environmentally-minded couple decided to install solar panels.
They faced a big problem: “There weren’t any obvious helpers in Ohio,” says Geoff.The Greenfields became the helpers. They founded Third Sun Solar, a solar installation company they initially ran out of their finished attic. The Greenfields were their own first customer.Fast forward 16 years, and their company has completed more than 600 installations across Ohio and the Midwest. Many are in central Ohio, such as the large installation on the Orange Barrel Media building along I-670 in Columbus.It’s been quite an evolution for Third Sun, which now does work in at least 14 states. The Greenfields have harnessed their backgrounds. Michelle, who is Third Sun’s CEO, has a master’s degree in economic development and has worked in that field in Appalachian Ohio. Geoff, who is Third Sun’s president, has experience with affordable housing and has worked with the nonprofit Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development.In the beginning, their attic offered a cramped, two-desk headquarters where Geoff couldn’t even stand up without hitting his head. There were boxes of unsorted receipts. They’d get work calls late at night.Some Ohio University business students who had taken on Third Sun Solar as a project visited the attic.”We were all sitting in this attic,” says Michelle, with some laughter. “There’s papers everywhere, and they said, ‘Don’t you guys get distracted in here, in this spot?'” They suggested the Greenfields get space at the Innovation Center, an incubator at Ohio University.They got the smallest space they could for about $175 a month in rent. The company began expanding and now has 34 employees, some based in Columbus.It hasn’t been a straight path for Third Sun as they ride what Michelle calls “the solar coaster.”

“We came in really at the infancy of the industry, where it was still a lot of cabins in the woods or hippies in the backcountry doing it, or people in California, and now it’s much more mainstream. We actually call it the solar coaster, because there have been all of these ups and downs throughout those 16 years as far as the price fluctuations and the equipment, the technological innovations, (and) the subsidies, because sometimes we have had subsidies, and sometimes we’ve had them taken away,” Michelle says.

Their customers are motivated by a mix of altruism and economics. “We’ve typically surveyed that (each) year, because we want to know so that we can market better, right? Do we come at this from an economic standpoint or from the green standpoint? It’s really split; 50-50,” Michelle says.

Third Sun handled its largest number of projects ever in 2016, a banner year for the company. In particular, the company saw a large increase in residential installations.

“What happened in 2016 is we hit the magic threshold, where for many people going solar costs less than doing nothing. You know, there is a concept called grid parity: When will solar have parity, have the same price as buying power over the electric grid? And everyone is thinking when is that going to come? And I say it came at the end of 2015. We’re there in Ohio,” says Geoff.

They also founded a sister company called New Resources Solutions that helps finance solar projects for investors. The company aims to “bridge the gap between investors that want to own project assets and want to invest in solar, but don’t want to own and manufacture,” explains Geoff.

Ten years ago, Delaware resident David Carpenter was thinking about going solar. He had long been a solar booster, having volunteered with Green Energy Ohio and Community Power Network.

After doing research online, Carpenter chose Third Sun Solar based in part on its reputation and successful installs.

“My main thing at the time was a combination of concern about climate change and the fact that I’m a technology guy and I like using energy. How can I use energy guilt-free was the main motivation, to be perfectly honest.”

Carpenter finds that, on average, the solar panels produce about as much electricity as he consumes, though it varies by the time of year.

He has no regrets. “I was teaching high school at the time. I had an ordinary income and an ordinary house in an ordinary development in an ordinary town, and I was able to put panels up and profit by it,” he marvels.

Third Sun Solar, 762 W. Union St., Athens 45701, thirdsunsolar.com
About: One of Ohio’s leading solar panel installers with more than 600 solar installations around Ohio and the Midwest, providing 11 megawatts of power.
Owners: Michelle Greenfield, founder and CEO; Geoff Greenfield, founder and president
Founded: 2000, Employees: 34

Greenfields


PHOTO: Geoff and Michelle Greenfield  [Michelle Greenfield served as the third President of the GEO Board of Directors during her board member tenure of 2001 to 2013]

Wind farms stall, solar grows as energy debate continues in Ohio
Springfield Sun News – Matt Sanctis – January 8, 2017
Alternative energy advocates cheered a recent decision by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to veto a recent bill that would have weakened the state’s clean energy standards, arguing the move will lead to more investment and jobs in the industry statewide.

But opponents, including residents engaged in a long legal battle over a proposed Champaign County wind farm, said they have seen laws repeatedly shift on the issue and hope to continue the fight.

The debate centers on Ohio House Bill 554, which lawmakers passed late last year and would have made state alternative energy requirements optional for the next two years. But Kasich vetoed it, meaning the state’s older energy standards will now snap back into place.

A group of Champaign County residents have opposed the Buckeye Wind Farm, a project that calls for hundreds of turbines across several townships there. Terry Rittenhouse, whose home is located near the wind farm site, said he believes the debate over the mandates isn’t over, despite Kasich’s veto.

“I have learned the legislative process and that what goes on today is not what could be happening six months from now,” he said. “The winds change. New political parties come to power, so we’ll see. I’m not so worried. I don’t necessarily think the mandates are going to stay.”

Wind farms stall, solar grows as energy debate continues in Ohio

Rittenhouse and other opponents have argued the wind farm is too close to homes within the project’s footprint. They have raised concerns about property rights, noise from the wind mills and the shadows cast as the turbine blades spin.

But the wind farm’s developers have argued they have worked with state officials to minimize any impact on residents and that the project will bring new revenue to Champaign County.

Even with the mandates back in place, both sides in the wind debate also said the real fight in that industry is over setbacks from homes and property lines.

Kasich’s decision will attract more investment to the state, said Mike Koralewski, senior vice president for global manufacturing at First Solar. The company’s Perrysburg, Ohio, plant is one of the largest solar panel manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

“Governor Kasich’s decision will help ensure that Ohio can leverage increasingly competitive, locally manufactured utility-scale solar projects that customers large and small demand in greater numbers every year,” Koralewski said.

Debate grows

The controversial mandates were approved by Ohio lawmakers in 2008. They call for a quarter of the state’s energy to come from alternative sources by 2025, with half of that coming from renewable sources such as wind and solar.

The law also required utilities to encourage energy efficiency, for example by offering customers rebates to purchase efficient appliances.

Advocates have said the mandates are important to make Ohio competitive, and attract new jobs and investment in the green energy industry. Opponents argued that they’re unnecessary and could lead to higher costs for consumers.

Lawmakers froze the law for two years while a panel studied its effectiveness. Late last year legislators voted to extend the freeze and make the standards optional as part of Ohio House Bill 554. But the requirements will go back into effect this year after Kasich’s veto.

The veto has angered some members of the Republican Party, including some local legislators.

State Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, was a leading supporter of the bill to extend the freeze. He argued Kasich wanted to appease “coastal elites” in the renewable energy industry by allowing the mandates to resume.

The mandates drive up costs by forcing businesses to buy energy from renewable sources, Seitz said.

“When a capitalist makes a product that consumers won’t buy, he improves the price and/or quality of the product in order to get sales,” Seitz said in an email to the Springfield News-Sun. “When a socialist makes a product that consumers won’t buy, he gets the government to mandate that people must buy it. It’s that simple. Because I am a capitalist, I do not favor mandates.”

State Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, criticized the decision to allow the mandates to go back into effect and other members of the Ohio House and Senate who he said were unwilling to remain in Columbus at the end of the year to override Kasich’s veto.

“I would have been happy to come back to Columbus to vote yes to free markets and eliminate mandates … But that is not going to happen because of a ‘Republican’ governor and a ‘Republican super majority’ in the Ohio House that refuses to act and do what they told the voters of Ohio they would do,” Vitale said in a lengthy Facebook post.

But freezing the mandates over the past two years put Ohio at a disadvantage in attracting new, high-tech companies to the state, Kasich said, and extending it would unnecessarily blunt the state’s efforts to lure new businesses and jobs. He cited a study from the Midwest Energy Alliance that argued Ohio had saved more than $1 billion since 2009 due to investments in energy efficiency, thanks largely to the state’s energy efficiency standards.

Several environmental groups and businesses applauded Kasich’s veto, including Whirlpool, Nestle and the National Wildlife Federation.

In 2015, a report from Environment Ohio, an environmental advocacy group, argued the freeze cost Clark County about $3.6 million in energy savings since it was enacted, and could cost about $29 million by 2025 if made permanent. It argued if the freeze was extended, the Dayton metro area would have missed out on electricity savings worth $251 million by 2025, enough electricity to power about 175,000 homes for a year.

“Ohio workers cannot afford to take a step backward from the economic gains that we have made in recent years, however, and arbitrarily limiting Ohio’s energy generation options amounts to self-inflicted damage to both our state’s near-and long-term economic competitiveness,” Kasich said in a statement. “Therefore, this veto is in the public interest.”

Solar fares better than wind

The mandates were effective in attracting solar and wind companies to Ohio, said Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio.

But both industries have stalled since the freeze went into effect, he said. The organization promotes sustainable energy policies throughout the state.

But solar has fared better than the wind industry, which also faced stricter site regulations that advocates have said made it difficult to locate new winds farms in Ohio.

Ohio is expected to install about 482 megawatts of solar electric capacity in the next five years, about six times what was installed in the previous five years, according to the Solar Energies Industry Association.

“The solar side has been inhibited, but it hasn’t been shut down directly,” Spratley said. “We think there would be a lot more solar in Ohio had the (mandates) not been frozen or halted in effect. The reason we think that is at the national level Ohio got the reputation that it’s not friendly to renewable investment and that really was the biggest impact of the renewable portfolio freeze.”

Prices to install solar energy systems in the U.S. have dropped 66 percent compared to 2010, according to the industry association.

Although renewable advocates argued the costs for wind and solar has steadily fallen, the conservative Buckeye Institute said in a recent policy brief that the mandates could end up costing consumers more.

“Inevitably, mandating renewable sources means higher retail prices for consumers — who will ultimately foot the bill — because installing new renewable resources is more expensive than allowing existing conventional power plants to operate,” the report says.

James Groeber, owner of Ohio Solar Electric in Springfield, has installed solar panels at the Springfield-Clark Career Technical Center and at the Ohio Governor’s Mansion. Groeber doesn’t believe the mandates going back into effect will have a major impact on his business in the short term, but he said it’s better for Ohio in the long run.

“It will be a little bit of a benefit for the renewable energy community,” Groeber said. “The cost of installation is continually going down and we’re seeing more of it. It will probably encourage more businesses to come and operate out of Ohio.”

Spratley also cited several major business that have increased their commitment to solar energy, including Assurant in Springfield, which installed a $7 million solar installation at its campus on Leffel Lane to supply energy for the facility. National companies like Walmart have also made significant commitments to solar energy over the next several years.

“Solar and wind have become conventional energy in a sense,” Spratley said. “People still call them alternative energy but the reality is economics have shifted.”

Fight could continue

On the other hand, new wind projects in Ohio have stalled. Only two commercial wind farms operate in the state currently, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Kasich’s veto sends a message that Ohio is open to new investment, said Andrew Gonn, director of eastern state policy for wind association. But wind projects will continue to lag, he said, as long as recently approved tougher requirements for turbines to be placed further back from homes and other properties remain in place.

Ohio has already benefited from the wind industry, he said, and could do so more in the future. But he predicted a fight over the setback requirements.

“There are tremendous opportunities either way but to maximize the opportunity Ohio needs to address setback reform,” Gonn said.

Everpower, the developer of the proposed Champaign County wind farm, couldn’t be reached for comment.

In Champaign County though, Rittenhouse argued the tougher standards are necessary to protect residents who live near possible wind farms. He argued there has been enough local opposition that moving forward after a roughly decade-long fight would amount to a hostile takeover. Rittenhouse said he also feared further changes that could lighten setback requirements.

“Those changes in setback rules will put us back into a position where wind turbines are infringing on private property,” Rittenhouse said. “It’s my sincere hope our legislature falls on the side of the property rights of all homeowners.”

Some wind projects aren’t a good fit for communities, Spratley said, and those decisions should typically be made with input from community members at the local level.

“That is a very local decision and I think it ought to be made locally,” Spratley said.

He also predicted that the dispute over setbacks in Ohio isn’t over. But in general, he argued even if the state kept the renewable freeze in place projects would move forward in communities and businesses throughout Ohio.

“The technology cannot be stopped and I don’t think edicts from the legislature are going to stop it,” Spratley said.

News Sun Van Wert Jan 2017

PHOTO: Wind turbines are silhouted against the setting sun in Van Wert County, Ohio

AEP Seeks Proposals for Wind, Solar Projects
Columbus Dispatch – Dan Gearino – December 17, 2016
American Electric Power is asking wind and solar developers for proposals for a massive expansion of renewable energy in Ohio.
The Columbus-based utility issued the request on Friday for projects that would generate 250 megawatts of wind energy and 100 megawatts of solar in the state.
“This is a significant and timely step forward for AEP on what represents the single largest clean-energy commitment in Ohio history,” said Dan Sawmiller, an Ohio staff member for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, in a statement.
The new request is just the first step in a long-term plan to build the capacity to generate 500 megawatts of wind energy and 400 megawatts of solar.
The framework of the plan was approved by state regulators this year. A key provision is that AEP can own up to 50 percent of each development, with AEP’s portion of the operational costs passed on to consumers.
This would be a dramatic increase in renewable energy in Ohio, which has 444 megawatts of wind farms and 119 megawatts of solar arrays, according to trade organizations for each power source.
A megawatt can provide for the electricity needs of about 1,000 houses. However, because wind and solar are intermittent resources, their actual output at a given moment is often much less than that.
Consumer advocates have raised concerns that some of the renewable-energy projects might not be justified by market demand and could lead to significant rate increases. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio acknowledged those concerns, but said the benefits outweigh potential problems.
Competing energy companies have argued that AEP’s plan is a troubling departure from a system in which power projects need to compete on an open market, rather than have a guarantee of payment from customers.
Todd Snitchler, a former PUCO chairman who now works on behalf of independent energy providers in Ohio, said that market forces should decide what gets built. Otherwise, there will be bad projects in which companies “build whatever they are allowed to, regardless of need or public policy,” he said.
But solar and wind advocates are applauding AEP’s move.
“The model that utilities have is evolving, and we have seen AEP as a very pro-solar company,” said Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio, an advocate for renewable power. “This helps the industry move forward.”
AEP is giving preference to solar proposals that would be located in Appalachian Ohio and says it will attempt to hire returning military personnel for the projects. There is no regional preference stated for wind, but most wind projects in the state tend to be in the northwestern counties, where the wind is strongest.
The wind and solar provisions were part of a settlement negotiated last year by Sierra Club, AEP and others.
Developers can submit proposals to AEP through Feb. 16. Any wind or solar project would need to be approved by the PUCO, and some large projects also would need approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board.
AEP’s plan is moving forward at the same time that state officials are debating whether to change rules that require utilities to invest in renewable energy. The Ohio General Assembly passed a bill this month that would make some of the rules optional, as opposed to required, for the next two years.
Gov. John Kasich has not yet said whether he will sign or veto the bill.
Cuyahoga County Solar Farm Project Will Help Region’s Renewable Energy Ranking
WKSU 89.7 Public Radio – Kevin Niedermier – December 14, 2016
Cuyahoga County is moving ahead with plans to build a solar energy farm to help power 17 county buildings. As WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reports, the project would help Northeast Ohio catch up with other parts of the state in solar energy use.

Bill Spratley is executive director of Green Energy Ohio, which advocates for alternative power production and use. He applauds Cuyahoga County’s push to construct the 4- to 5- megawatt solar farm. Spratley says it would greatly bolster the region’s third-place ranking in solar production capacity.

“If that were to be built at that scale that would be the fourth or fifth largest solar array in the state of Ohio. Currently, about 17 percent of the solar in the state is in the Northeast. The Northwest is about three-times that … followed by the Southwest.”

While Northeast Ohio is third in the state for solar power production, Spratley says it ranks second in the number of solar arrays. The most are in the Southwest. As far as counties go, Cuyahoga is third in Ohio.
College of Wooster solar KSU 89.7PHOTO: Solar panels at the College of Wooster. Cuyahoga County will be getting into the solar energy game as well.

Critics: Jobs will be in jeopardy if Ohio energy bill becomes law

Midwest Energy News – Kathiann Kowalski – December 2, 2016
On the same day that a new study reported that more than 300 companies in Ohio are part of the supply chains for the wind and solar industries, lawmakers voted a bill out of committee that would make compliance with the state’s clean energy standards voluntary until 2020.

If House Bill 554 becomes law, critics say the state would lose out on business opportunities and jobs. In their view, the bill would also discourage competition, keep electricity prices high and promote pollution that causes health problems and contributes to climate change.

“We’re either going to move in a clean energy direction that produces new jobs related to solar and wind and efficiency,” said Rob Kelter of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, which released the supply chain report on Nov. 30. “Or we’re going to let other states and other countries manufacture these new products.”

‘Behind the radar’
According to the supply chain report, 207 Ohio companies supply the solar energy industry, 134 manufacture things for the wind energy industry, and 20 serve as suppliers for both industries.

Those companies’ manufacturing operations “are sort of behind the radar,” Kelter noted.

For example, the report notes, Art Iron in Toledo fabricates steel supports for solar canopies and wind turbine main frames. Dyson Corporation in Painesville makes hardware that can be used in wind turbines. Dupont’s facility in Circleville makes Tedlar film, which is used in backsheets for solar panels. Rittal Corporation in Urbana provides enclosures that protect equipment for solar and wind energy from the elements.

Such products “don’t grab the public’s attention, because the public doesn’t go out and buy those products in the stores,” Kelter said. “But they’re really important, and they’re employing a lot of people.”

But federal and state policies are “key” to encouraging investment in those industries to create even more jobs, according to the report.

Important policies at the federal level include tax incentives, grants and loans under the Rural Energy for America Program, and the Clean Power Plan, the report notes. State policies that play a big role include renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, as well as net metering and interconnection rules.
Ohio’s lawmakers weakened and froze additional requirements under the renewable energy and energy efficiency standards in 2014. Those standards are due to come back in their amended form at the end of this year.

Yet even in their weaker form, the clean energy standards are important for Ohio businesses in the wind and solar supply chains, Kelter said.
“What the standards do is they ensure that Ohio will be needing the parts and pieces that are manufactured by these companies [and] that Ohio will be an important customer and…a major player,” Kelter explained.

‘Far less attractive’
Under HB 554, utilities and other electricity suppliers would face no risk of enforcement if they failed to realize any more improvements in energy efficiency and renewable energy before 2020.

Multiple provisions would also weaken the standards further. For energy efficiency, the bill would reduce the final target from 22 to 17 percent of the average annual emissions from the baseline years of 2006 to 2008. The bill would also expand the classes of customers who could opt out and let utilities count things such as wastewater treatment improvements.

Opponents of the bill warned the House Public Utilities Committee about possible consequences for the state’s business and jobs outlook when they testified on Nov. 30.

minster-solar Midwest Energy May 2016“As a state we can embrace a cleaner energy source and help communities and businesses create jobs to build a sustainable energy future,” Green Energy Ohio Executive Director Bill Spratley said. Yet even if Ohio were to pass the bill, “the technologies will not be stopped by legislative edicts. Solar and wind costs are continuing to decrease.”

“The real damage to Ohio is its relative position to other states that are growing renewable energy faster by encouraging investment and new jobs,” Spratley stressed. [See full GEO Testimony]   PHOTO: Crews work on a solar farm near Minster, Ohio.

“Nationally, renewable energy has been growing at a remarkable pace, providing hundreds of thousands of new, well-paying jobs,” said Robert Brecha of the University of Dayton’s Hanley Sustainability Institute when he testified before the lawmakers. “Ohio has been part of that trend, with renewable energy jobs in the state far surpassing those in the coal industry, for example. These are the jobs that our students are interested in for their careers.”

“I am concerned that HB 554 and [companion bill] SB 320 would serve to make Ohio’s business climate far less attractive, as other states move forward with renewable energy development,” Brecha said. “And eliminating incentives for energy efficiency serves nobody’s interests.”

“We ask that Ohio not take itself out of the running as the rest of the region moves forward toward building out its clean energy infrastructure,” said Chris Neme of Energy Futures Group, testifying on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Saving money
Consumers also stand to save if enforceable standards return, witnesses told the lawmakers.

“Energy efficiency can benefit both those participating in the programs and those who pay for the programs but do not participate,” Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston said. “All customers benefit because efficiency can be used to reduce the need for power generation.”

For example, a recent report found that Michigan’s efficiency standards were saving ratepayers $4.35 for every dollar invested.

“Put simply, energy efficiency should be treated as a resource that can be acquired in lieu of other supply and demand resources,” Neme said.
If anything, he and other witnesses said, the energy efficiency standard should be tightened to eliminate provisions added in 2014 that weaken it while expanding profit opportunities for utilities.

Renewable energy also helps consumers save money, witnesses said.

“Electricity from new wind farms sells for about $35 per MWh in our part of the country while Ohioans are paying over $50 per MWh for traditional sources of power,” said Al Rosenfield of the League of Women Voters of Ohio.

Solar and wind energy are also a hedge against fluctuating prices because they have no fuel costs after installation, Kelter noted. “Even natural gas, as cheap and plentiful as it is, doubled in price in 2014 when we had a cold winter,” he said. “Prices might have gone even higher if not for the presence of non-fossil resources, especially wind, in the PJM generation market.”

‘An obligation to step in’
“Even if you don’t believe in any of the clean air and other environmental benefits of renewables, they should be part of a balanced portfolio,” Kelter added.
Yet those environmental benefits are important, witnesses told the lawmakers.

“If we were to allow the old standards to snap back into place, in just one year we could avoid 2,230 asthma attacks, 120 trips to the ER, 230 heart attacks and more than 16,000 sick days from work and school,” said Melissa English of the Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund.

Emissions from coal and natural gas also produce greenhouse gases, which lead to climate change. And climate change is already causing serious impacts, reported Mike Foley, who heads the Department of Sustainability for Cuyahoga County.

“The results are more severe and costlier storms, longer and worse droughts, ecosystems being disrupted, moving or dying off,” Foley said. “We are fundamentally changing our environment in harmful ways.”

“At times like this, Government has an obligation to step in and ensure that positive changes are made in order to set a different path,” Foley continued. Indeed, he added, “because Ohio has such a high reliance on coal as a generation source for our electricity, I believe we have a greater responsibility to change our ways.”
HB 554 now heads to the full House for debate and a possible vote. If passed in both the House and the Senate, it would then be up to Gov. John Kasich to either sign or veto the bill.

Kasich has told the Columbus Dispatch he doesn’t want to see “a headline that Ohio went backward on the environment.” However, he stopped short of saying outright that he would veto the bill.

Ohio lawmakers to make green energy mandates voluntary until 2020
Cleveland Plain Dealer – John Funk – November 30, 2016
COLUMBUS — Ohio Republican lawmakers inched closer to a standoff with Gov. John Kasich Wednesday when the House Public Utilities Committee approved a bill that would, in effect, continue the two-year freeze on rules requiring power companies to provide green energy and energy efficiency programs.

The committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Dovilla, a Berea Republican, approved and sent a bill to the full House that would “unfreeze’ the mandates requiring power companies to provide an annually increasing percentage of renewable energy through 2027.

But the legislation, and a companion bill in the Senate that attracted testimony about 60 opponents Tuesday night, would also make compliance with the standards voluntary from 2017 through 2019

In other words, it would leave it up power companies to decide when they want to start to comply — which would pull the rug out from under wind and solar companies that argued they need mandates initially to create a market for their technologies.

About the same time the House committee ended Wednesday’s day-long hearing that drew more than 40 witnesses asking to testify and another dozen or so onlookers, Kasich spoke to reporters following a suburban Columbus event.

He told them that the mandates are important to attracting new business to the state.

“I think we should embrace these renewables,” he said. “We think these goals that were established for renewables, both solar and wind, can be met.

“There are companies that look at Ohio who consider it to be very important that we have a forward-looking green program,” he said. “If you talk to some of the folks at JobsOhio, these companies will say, ‘Well, what’s the state of your renewables, what’s the state of green?’ And it’s part of their code. It’s part of their culture.”

Kasich has repeatedly said he would veto any legislation that extends the freeze on the mandates. But on Wednesday, he would not go quite that far.

Instead, he said he wanted to work with lawmakers, “let them do their job” and “not put some hammer down on them at this point.

“I just would hope the legislature will not have a headline that Ohio went backward on the environment. I just don’t want to see that,” he said.

The House committee vote went along party lines with the exception of one Republican, Rep. David Hall of Millersburg, who did not support moving the bill out of committee.

He explained in a brief interview later that considering the uncertainty of future federal clean air mandates, he thought now would be a good time for lawmakers and the governor to sit down and quietly negotiate the state green mandates.

Among the opponents to the legislation was Ohio’s only solar panel maker.

Colin Meehan, director of regulatory and public affairs at First Solar in Perrysburg, was more blunt than some of the others.

First Solar’s research and development labs in Perrysburg spends $100 million a year, he said. The company has employed as many as 1,400, though that is currently at about 1,200.

And the company, which is about to re-tool its plant to build a highly automated precision production line manufacturing its “next generation” solar panel, needs a consistent policy, one that it can trust “won’t be up-ended,” Meehan said.

Then, after a series of questions from the lawmakers who seemed to doubt his claims, and even doubt the value of solar technology, Meehan warned that approval of the bill would cause the company to take a hard look at staying in Ohio.

William Spratley, Ohio’s first consumers counsel and now director of Green Energy Ohio, an advocate for renewable energy, told the lawmakers they could not stop the coming green revolution.

“Ohio can continue to discourage investment in solar and wind technologies, but the technologies will not be stopped by legislative edicts,” he said. “The real damage to Ohio is its relative position to other states that are growing renewable energy faster by encouraging investment and new jobs.” [See full GEO Opponent Testimony]

Attorney Sam Randazzo, general counsel for the Industrial Energy Users of Ohio and an advocate for the legislation, rounded out the committee’s day with a historical perspective of the origins of the 2008 legislation that created the mandates and a defense of what the pending legislation aims to do.  Columbus PD Nov 2016

“This bill does not freeze [the mandates.] Senate Bill 310 [enacted in 2014] froze the rate of escalation and peak demand reduction. What this bill does is restore the escalation of the mandates and stretches out the compliance period [to 12.5 percent renewable by 2027],” he said.

PHOTO: The Ohio Environmental Council’s Action Fund took aim this week at State Rep. Kristina Roegner, a Republican from Hudson, and vice-chair of the House Public Utilities Committee, for her position on pending legislation that would resurrect state rules requiring power companies to provide an increasing percentages of renewable power through 2027 but make compliance for the next three years voluntary. The Action Fund projected this digital billboard on a bank building located on Capitol Square.

Ohio clean energy standards may go from ‘frozen’ to voluntary in coming weeks
Midwest Energy News – Kathiann Kowalski – November 29, 2016
Ohio lawmakers may advance at least one bill this week to further delay the state’s enforceable clean energy standards that have been on hold since 2014.

While two proposed “companion bills” — Senate Bill 320 and House Bill 554 — would technically resume targets for the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency laws, compliance would be voluntary until at least 2020.

Thus, clean energy supporters say either bill would effectively extend the state’s clean energy freeze for several more years.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to have its fourth hearing on SB 320 at 4 p.m. this afternoon. The House Public Utilities Committee will hold its third hearing on HB 554 at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, possibly ending testimony and voting it out to the House floor.

Opponents say the proposals could significantly harm the competitiveness of Ohio’s clean energy industry because business opportunities will go to states with enforceable standards rather than voluntary goals.

“We’re the seventh-largest state,” Bill Sprately, executive director of Green Energy Ohio, said at a Nov. 18 conference in Columbus. “If we don’t start paying attention at the government level, the other states are passing us by.”

‘Short-sighted’

Ohio’s renewable and energy efficiency standards have been frozen at their current levels since 2014 and are set to resume next year. Gov. John Kasich has previously said that he would not accept further attempts to extend the freeze.

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The same law that put the freeze in place also allowed large electricity customers to opt out of the energy efficiency standard, eliminated a separate advanced energy standard, and expanded the scope of what counts for both renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Supporters of the clean energy standards say their return in even the modified form from 2014 would improve air quality in Ohio, lead to lower energy bills for consumers and spur job growth in the state.

Meanwhile, speakers at the Green Energy Ohio conference noted, the clean energy standards are just one of multiple issues that will be taken up by state legislators in the coming year. That’s yet another reason they say lawmakers should not try to push through changes to the clean energy standards in this year’s lame-duck session.  [See expert speaker presentations at the GEO November 18 Columbus Conference.]

For example, Dayton Power & Light is “pushing for a legislative change to expressly allow the PUCO to authorize financial integrity payments to utilities,” said Dylan Borchers, a lawyer at Bricker & Eckler in Columbus, whose clients include the Ohio Hospital Association. That move comes in the wake of regulators’ recent ruling to charge customers to bolster FirstEnergy’s credit rating.

Beyond that, both American Electric Power and FirstEnergy plan to press Ohio lawmakers for full or partial re-regulation. “And that fight is going to happen,” Borchers said.

In addition, grid modernization is a high priority for leadership at the Public Utilities Commission, noted Steve Caminati of Melamed Communications.

“I see all of those things merging into one comprehensive energy bill,” Caminati said.

In light of all those issues, a piecemeal approach makes little sense, stressed Trish Demeter of the Ohio Environmental Council.

“It would be short-sighted to enact even more changes to Ohio’s energy policies, whether it be a freeze extension, an expanded industrial opt-out, trimmed down standards or voluntary clean energy goals,” Demeter said when she testified before the House committee on Nov. 16. “Doing so would be taking the issue of Ohio’s clean energy standards completely out of context of these other, larger issues at play.”

Competing with natural gas

Bill supporters have argued that much has changed since the renewable energy and energy efficiency standards were first adopted in 2008, particularly with the natural gas industry.

For example, SB 320 sponsor Sen. Bill Seitz has talked about the abundant natural gas supplies that have become available in the state since the expansion of fracking and horizontal drilling.

“And the expectations that existed in 2007 and early 2008, when Ohio adopted electricity supply-side and demand-side mandates, are very different than today’s realities,” Sam Randazzo, counsel for the Industrial Energy Users-Ohio testified on Nov. 15. In his view, those include “the energy price and reliability benefits that are currently flowing from our abundant domestic shale resources.”

Supporters of the clean energy standards agree there’s “so much that’s changed,” especially since the 2014 freeze went into effect.

“Market trends are increasingly going towards clean energy, not away,” Demeter said in her testimony. “The price for renewable energy continues to rapidly decline. Older, coal-fired power plants are struggling to compete against cheaper, more efficient resources. ”

Energy storage has also become more important for making renewable energy a good long-term hedge against fuel prices, stressed David Dwyer of American Renewable Energy in Columbus. “We feel that the benefits of a project triple when you add storage,” Dwyer said.

And although natural gas is a cleaner-burning fuel than coal, “there are climate complications” and other environmental concerns, Demeter noted at the Nov. 18 conference. Issues include fugitive emissions, potential pollution from drilling and waste disposal, and a host of pipeline-related concerns.

In her view, renewable portfolio standards are also “very important policy-wise” for providing cleaner air, addressing climate change and providing good jobs.

“If we don’t have state policies that stipulate renewables are going to be part of the future portfolio, then utilities will engage in natural gas,” Demeter said. “We should be prioritizing true renewables and not just letting natural gas edge that out.”

The bottom line

Consumer costs are also a big reason to bring back clean energy standards rather than goals, supporters say.

Costs for complying with the renewable energy standard “have stayed well below one dollar per month for almost all of the last eight years,” Alan Rosenfield, of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, said when he testified before the Senate committee last week. “Renewable energy compliance costs account for less than 1 percent of electric bills and less than 4 percent of the rate increases since 2008.”

In contrast, Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston attached a “subsidy scorecard” to his Nov. 22 testimony. It shows $14.67 billion in subsidies that have been collected for a wide range of things by Ohio utilities since 2000, plus an additional $235.11 million that they would collect in additional charges starting in 2017.

In light of that, Weston said, utilities should be required to go through competitive bidding for their energy efficiency programs. That and other consumer protection provisions should guard against utilities improperly profiting from those programs at customers’ expense.

In particular, Weston said, “There should be a limit on the measures that qualify for shared savings or other utility incentives,” plus additional consumer protection provisions to correct for problems made possible by the 2014 amendments. He added that proposed changes to the low-income energy assistance program should be made only after a full hearing process, “not rushed in the post-election session.”

For now, though, the two legislative committees appear poised to press forward during the lame-duck session.

“We’re trying to flood these committees with people testifying in opposition … just to show en masse the opposition to further attempts to kick the can down the road and not address these issues and perpetuate market uncertainty for the standards,” Caminati said.

Study: Toledo fails in ‘green test’  – City ranks 97th out of 100 for environmental practices
Toledo Blade – Tom Henry – October 13, 2016
Toledo fared poorly in a WalletHub study released Wednesday of America’s 100 largest cities for environmentally friendly, or “green” practices.

The website, known for financial information including free credit scores and credit reports, said it weighed 20 indicators such as air and water quality, walking and bicycling, renewable energy commitment, and locally grown food.
Wallet Hub Rankings 2016 - Blade OwensToledo came in 97th overall, only three spots ahead of the worst performer, Baton Rouge.

Toledo’s best score was in greenhouse-gas emissions per capita, in which it ranked 35th.

Former Toledo City Councilman Frank Szollosi, a climate-change advocate for the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes regional office in Ann Arbor and for Lucas County, said the next president and Congress should focus less on highway spending and more on high-speed rail to link Toledo with Columbus, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and the East Coast network.

“If Toledo wants to attract and keep young people, we need public investment in sustainable transportation — again, infrastructure needs to be a priority at local, state and federal levels,” Mr. Szollosi said, citing a 2014 Rockefeller Foundation and Transportation for America report.

He said locally sourced food through expanded farmers markets “serves as a great opportunity for Toledo and Lucas County to improve public health, launch new and interesting restaurants and catering businesses, and to collaborate with regional farmers.”

Bill Spratley, Green Energy Ohio chief, said his group, the state’s largest for promoting renewable energy, sees Toledo as “the ‘Solar City’ of Ohio.”

“Toledo has the largest solar systems in Ohio, compared to any other city in our May 30, 2016 [report] of the 25 big solar arrays,” Mr. Spratley said, citing major projects by Owens Corning, the Toledo Zoo, GM Powertrain, the Toledo Air National Guard, the University of Toledo, First Solar, and others.

Sixteen of Ohio’s 25 largest solar projects are in northwest Ohio and four months from now the largest will be in Bowling Green, according to information Green Energy Ohio showed at an event on Aug. 25.

See Wallet Hub 100 2016 City Rankings.

PHOTO: City Rankings in Blade story and photo of the Owens Corning World Headquarters Solar Parking Canopy in downtown Toledo featured on p. 22 in Summer 2016 GEO News Magazine story on GEO May 2016 Ohio Solar Survey.

1st Carbon-Neutral Car Dealership In World Is … Motorcars Honda In Ohio?
Clean Technica, September 3, 2016
The Cleveland Heights, Ohio–based car dealership Motorcars Honda was named the first carbon-neutral automotive dealership anywhere in the world at a recent awards ceremony in the city, according to a new press release.

The new “Carbon Neutral Award” status was granted by British Petroleum (BP), ironically, at an event “for more than 5,000 residents and businesses at Wade Oval in University Circle.”

What has Motorcars Honda done to date to deserve such a distinction? Apparently, it installed solar photovoltaic (PV) panels as well as “LG VRF systems heating/cooling system, and LED lighting fixtures,” amongst other things.

“We are eliminating the carbon footprint for every new & used cars sold, all of our employees cars, parts truck, rental cars, shuttle van, and the owners personal travel tied to work,” stated Trevor Gile, Managing Partner at Motorcars Honda. “Five years ago, we never thought that we would be going down this path, but as our employees became more involved and concerned with the environment, we started to learn about some of the various options available to help.”

Here’s some background on the dealership: “Motorcars Honda is an automotive dealership in Cleveland Heights, OH. Founded in 1971. Motorcars Honda has received many awards including Honda’s Environmental Leadership Platinum Award — 1 of only 10 dealers in the country to win this award, Winner of 2015 Ohio Business of the Year (Green Energy of Ohio), Winner of 2016’s “Dealer of the Year” for Ohio (DealerRater) and ranked top 100 dealerships to work for in America (Automotive News), just to name a few.”

It’s hard to believe this is the first carbon-neutral car dealership in the world, but I guess that also makes a bit of sense.

Solar power growing rapidly as prices tumble and tax credits are extended
VIDEO: Post-Conference Interview with GEO’s Bill Spratley
Cleveland Plain Dealer on Cleveland.com, August 27, 2016
by John Funk
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — The nation is on the verge of the solar revolution that has been predicted for decades.
 
And that’s what experts were discussing this week at a solar conference in northwest Ohio at Green Energy Ohio’s annual solar conference, held this year at Bowling Green.
 
Green Energy’s founder Bill Spratley is predicting that big solar arrays will soon be very common.
PD Video BG Conf
First, the prices of solar panels, related electronic controls and the mounting hardware have fallen in recent years.
 
And late last year, Congress extended the 30 percent solar tax credit for another five years.
 
Also called an Investment Tax Credit, the provision allows homeowners and businesses to claim 30 percent of the cost of a solar installation as a credit against federal income taxes.
 
The bottom line is that solar power has become more affordable, not only for homes and business but for power companies as well. Utilities across the nation are building very large solar farms.
 
Columbus-based American Electric Power wants to build 400 megawatts of solar within its system.
 
And American Municipal Power, the Columbus-based wholesaler for more than 130 municipally owned power systems, has a joint development agreement with NextEra Energy Resources, an unregulated sister company to Florida Power and Light.
 
NextEra can take advantage of the federal tax credit. And because AMP is a non-profit company, it can borrow money at more attractive rates.
 
AMP and NextEra want to build 80 megawatts of solar power throughout Ohio and nearby states in which AMP’s member cities are located.
 
One town that is taking advantage of the AMP/NextEra deal is Bowling Green, where the Department of Public Utilities has agreed to a 20 megawatt solar farm that will feed a nearby AMP substation and then flow directly into the Bowling Green power lines.
 
The huge array will sit on ground mounted racks on 167 acres of former farmland the city owns. The array will consist of 85,000 solar panels, which will track the sun daily. The simple tracking system means the array will begin generating more power earlier in the day and keep generating at higher rates deep into the afternoon.
 
The city won’t own the system. Instead, it has signed a long-term power purchase agreement to buy the power from the array for 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.
 
That’s actually competitive with much cheaper wholesale power generated by gas-fired plants and available in wholesale markets.
 
It’s competitive because the solar power will be generated behind the city’s meter. The city will not have to pay long-distance transmission charges, which have been rising rapidly. Nor will it have to pay the special charges levied by grid manager PJM Interconnection.
 
Another NW Ohio city, Minster, home of Dannon Yogurt’s largest production facility in North America, worked a similar agreement last year with Columbus-based solar developer, American Renewable Energy, and a private Chicago investor group to build a 4.3 megawatt solar array backed up by a very large battery system.
 
The battery backup helps pay for the project because PJM buys power from it on a second-by-second basis to stabilize the regional grid.


Statewide conference illuminates BG’s solar project:

Stone Ridge site of daylong Green Energy Ohio forum
Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune, August 26, 2016
by Peter Kuebeck
Bowling Green’s upcoming solar project was in the spotlight Thursday as part of a statewide energy conference held in the city.
Green Energy Ohio’s “Building Big Solar Across Ohio” conference took place at Stone Ridge Golf Club.

“Next year at this time, Bowling Green, Wood County, will be the mecca,” said Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio, in his opening remarks. Bowling Green, he said, will be “the biggest solar city in Ohio.”

Bowling Green Utilities Director Brian O’Connell said the solar site, situated on 165 acres along Carter Road, northeast of the city, is currently under construction. The land was formerly farm property.

The city is partnering with American Municipal Power and solar developer NextEra Energy on the project. NextEra will own and operate the installation and sell the power produced to AMP, which will purchase the power and sell it to its members, as well as coordinate delivery.

The project will have a 20-megawatt capacity, and Bowling Green is slated to subscribe to 13.74 megawatts of that output. The project is expected to supply enough energy to power 3,000 homes. The remaining output from the site is to be purchased by AMP members.

The project will contain 85,000 tracking solar panels which follow the path of the sun. It is slated to be operable by the end of the year.

O’Connell said that in 2014, AMP asked that members submit sites to be under consideration for solar generation. The city submitted several sites, but the farm site, since it was least developed, was the most economical.

“This was the best site that we could come up with in Bowling Green.”

The BG site will be the largest AMP solar project, but not the only one. There are a total of 26 sites being proposed for other solar installations right now.

O’Connell said the city will experience savings on capacity charges, as well as on First Energy transmission charges they’re assessed.

“Those have been going up quite drastically the last couple years,” he said. Additionally, the project represents a local renewable generation connection for the city’s electrical system. He said that the project helps to diversify BG’s electrical supply by adding a needed peaking resource for when demand on the electrical grid is high. Further, such a project helps reduce carbon emissions.

By 2018, with the addition of this installation, AMP solar will represent 4.5 percent of the city’s energy portfolio.

Harry Phillips, marketing director for AMP, noted that currently, AMP has one solar facility, located in Napoleon, which has a 3.54 megawatt capacity.

With the project, AMP will purchase 100 percent of the output from the site, and at the end of the 25-year contract with NextEra, will have the opportunity to purchase the facility.

Matt Handel, NextEra’s vice president for solar, distributed generation and energy, noted that “trailers are at the site for the work crews. I believe posts start going in the ground in late September, and we will be done by the end of December. So 20 megawatts by the end of this year.”

He said the company is partnering with the community, including with Bowling Green State University to provide a $10,000-per-year endowed scholarship, and to allow site visits for faculty, students and staff.

He said the workforce at the project will include 80 percent “Ohio domiciled labor,” resulting in the creation of about 85 full-time-equivalent jobs during construction.

An afternoon session about the BG community and the project was also scheduled Thursday.

State’s largest solar project to be in B.G.  – Ohio’s energy landscape changing
Toledo Blade, August 26, 2016
by Tom Henry
BOWLING GREEN — Sixteen of Ohio’s 25 largest solar projects are in northwest Ohio and — four months from now — the largest will be in Bowling Green, which for years was best known as the place which launched the state into the modern era of utility-scale wind turbines.

The solar industry’s coming of age was recognized at a statewide Green Energy Ohio conference Thursday at the Stone Ridge Golf Club in Bowling Green. About 110 business leaders, educators, lobbyists, and others attended.

Solar’s inroads come as Ohio’s energy landscape and that of America in general are undergoing historic change, but also historic challenges.

Coal-fired power has the lowest share of the energy market since World War II.

While the Obama Administration has promoted a mix of natural gas and renewable energy to lower the nation’s climate-altering carbon footprint, there’s still a lot of anxiety about what conservatives in the Ohio General Assembly might do this fall with the two-year freeze on Ohio’s renewable energy mandates expiring this year.

“Ohio’s changing rapidly,” Luke Sulfridge, program director for OH SUN, a statewide group that promotes community solar projects, said during a conversation with a couple of attendees during a break. “This will be an interesting year.”

Bowling Green’s commitment to renewable energy will surge from the construction of its 20-megawatt solar field that is to be completed Dec. 31.

That solar field will surpass the 12-megawatt Wyandot Solar Farm to become Ohio’s largest.

Daryl Stockburger, Bowling Green assistant utilities director, received applause during his presentation when he said the project — being co-developed by NextEra Energy and AMP — would bring that city’s mix of energy from renewable sources to 38.16 percent when completed, an increase from its current level of 12.04 percent.

Statewide, that percentage is a mere 1.5 percent.

The Bowling Green project is the largest of an 80-megawatt initiative called DG AMP Solar that is to include 26 sites, mostly in Ohio. It is being built on 165 of 315 acres the city owns along Carter Road northeast of Bowling Green, Mr. Stockburger said.

Much of the conference was devoted to promoting community-based solar projects, a concept gaining in popularity compared to rooftop installations.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado, no more than 27 percent of residential roofs are believed to be suitable for solar panels because of the direction they face, their slope, their weight capacity, or other factors.

Community solar projects from the tiny village of Minster, Ohio, to Clyde, Ohio, were discussed.

Minster is home to a major Dannon yogurt facility, while Clyde is home to one of Whirlpool Corp.’s largest dishwasher factories.

“The reason I got into solar 15 years ago was because I thought local investment would be what would turn our country around,” Don Harrod, Minster village administrator, said. “Everyone should have a chance to participate in community solar.”

Teresa Smith, business development manager for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, said the port board has millions of dollars available to loan for renewable energy projects, usually at rates of 5 percent over 15 years.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average annual carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now exceeds 400 parts per million for the first time in at least 800,000 years.

“The big picture isn’t how much solar we can put in, how much wind power we can put in, but how much we can reduce carbon dioxide emissions,” Mr. Leontis said.

Climate change “is not a question of 20 years from now,” he later added. “It’s happening right now.”

Bringing solar power out of the dark ages
BG Independent, August 25, 2016
by Jan McLaughlin

Ohio may be the nation’s leading solar manufacturer, but some state leaders’ attitudes about solar are back in the dark ages, according to Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio.

However, Bowling Green could be a “game changer” – building the largest solar field in the state. “Next year, Bowling Green, Wood County will be the mecca.” It’s appropriate that Bowling Green take the lead, Spratley said, since the city was the first to erect utility scale wind turbines in 2003.

Maybe the Bowling Green solar field can convince politicians that harnessing the power of the sun is no longer radical. “They still think solar is out in the future. Solar is here now,” Spratley said. “We’ve got to get past these buggy whip manufacturers.”

Spratley said he runs into solar investors around the country, curious about Ohio’s reluctance to support solar power. “What the hell is happening in Ohio,” he said they ask him.

The state legislature has frozen Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, he said. Consequently, renewable energy comprises just 3 percent of the overall mix of electricity sources in the state.

“We need to send a message to free the hostages in Columbus,” he said of possible solar funding to “get power to the people.”

Spratley was one of many speakers at the “Building Big Solar Across Ohio” conference in Bowling Green on Thursday. He was joined by leaders of renewable energy companies, representatives of solar companies, officials from communities using solar power, and green energy advocates.

Solar conference Thursday in Bowling Green

Solar power used to be “for off-the-wall hippies,” said David Dwyer, president of American Renewable Energy. But that is no longer the case.

For those unable to access solar power on their roofs, community solar was created, according to Mark Wilkerson, of Clean Energy Collective.

“Solar had to transcend politics,” said Wilkerson, who has worked in the solar industry for more than three decades. “It’s the extension of the American dream.”

And it is working in some areas. Take the small town of Minster, with just 2,850 people. It was formerly famous for its Oktoberfest and winning sports titles. But now it’s also on the map for its 18-acre solar field which produces 4.2 MW of electricity.

The conference pointed out the top 25 solar sites in Ohio, with the greatest number being in Southwest Ohio, and the greatest capacity in Northwest Ohio, including sites in Clyde and Owens Corning in Toledo. The fewest solar sites are found in the Southeast quadrant of the state.

All but one of Ohio’s 88 counties – Noble County – has some solar power generation in place.

The 25 sites together produce 132 MW of electricity – the equivalent of taking 15,000 cars off the road, according to Emily Sautter, of Green Energy Ohio.

By the end of this year, Bowling Green’s solar array should be producing 20 MW on 165 acres northeast of the city, at Carter and Newton roads. The acreage was formerly rented out for farming by the city, and will be leased at $1 a year by NextEra, which is building the solar array.

The benefits of solar power to the city include reduced carbon emissions, a more diverse power supply with peaking resources, and a fixed price for the life of the contract lasting 20 to 30 years, according to Bowling Green Utility Director Brian O’Connell.

Bowling Green has contracted for 13.7 MW from the solar site, O’Connell said. The remaining power will be purchased by other American Municipal Power members. NextEra will own and operate the site, and will sell the power to AMP, which will coordinate the power delivery and make sure Bowling Green gets its share.

Harry Phillips, of AMP, was asked why his entity was willing to take a chance on solar when others aren’t. “Our reason for jumping into solar? Beyond being a great renewable, it’s very, very functional,” he said.
The Bowling Green solar field will have 85,000 solar panels.
“That’s a lot of solar panels,” Phillips said.
The panels will have trackers, which means they will move with the sun as it crosses the sky. Consequently, the solar array can generate power earlier and later in the day, according to Matt Handel, of NextEra Energy.
The downside of tracker panels is they cost more and require more land. The rule of thumb used to be that trackers made sense west of the Mississippi River, but not in the east. That is no longer the case, since the price for tracking systems is now lower, Handel said.
Work has already begun on the Bowling Green solar field, with the project to be in operation by the end of the year.
NextEra is careful about its neighbors, with a realization that once the life of the solar field is complete, the acreage will go back to agriculture, Handel said.
“We need to be a good neighbor,” he said. “We try not to ruffle any feathers.”
The solar field has more in common with farming than some may think, Handel said. “We’re harvesting sun.”BG Independent collage
PHOTOS: GEO Building Big Solar Conference (L) and Construction at the Bowling Green 20 MW Solar Project Site (R)

Global warming and the race for the White House
BBC News, August 24, 2016
by David Shukman, Science Editor
Two starkly different visions of global warming are offered by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in their race for the White House.

The Democratic Party contender says she believes in the science of climate change and plans to see America become a “clean energy superpower” – installing half-a-billion solar panels by the end of her first term.

By contrast, the Republican candidate talks down the threat of rising temperatures and says his priority is to cut the costs of energy for manufacturers and to revive the coal industry.
Hillary Clinton is a strong supporter of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Donald Trump wants to renegotiate it or pull America out of it.

Because the US has the world’s largest economy, and is the second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, the outcome of this struggle will reverberate internationally. If the US leaves the Paris Agreement, the painfully-negotiated deal could unravel.
With such sharply opposing perspectives, this is the first presidential contest in which the candidates are highlighting their stances on global warming and energy, and using them to attack each other.

So how is this playing out in a swing state like Ohio, which hosts some of America’s oldest coalfields and one of the most innovative solar panel makers?

Through the east of the state, the mighty Ohio River flows like an artery for the coal industry, with the heavy machinery of mines, loading stations and power plants lining the steep green banks.

For more than a century, this has been a crucible of power production for the US economy, with vast quantities of coal burned to generate electricity. And because the jobs paid well, and there were lots of them, the communities thrived.

But in recent years, fortunes have changed. The pollution belching from the smokestacks has been gradually limited by wave after wave of legislation – first on emissions of sulphur dioxide, then of nitrogen dioxide, and now of carbon dioxide.

It’s no surprise, but along this valley the Environmental Protection Agency is held in contempt. This is the body responsible for cleaning up the air and reducing greenhouse gases under President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. A key Trump promise is to dismantle both the agency and the plan.

The reality is that environmental regulation is not the only challenge to coal. Another has come from fracking, the revolution that’s opened up deep layers of shale rock to release new supplies of plentiful gas that’s cheaper and cleaner than coal.

In any event, the result is that demand for coal is falling and the mines have long been in trouble. As many as 50 mining companies have filed for bankruptcy.

Robert E. Murray, chief executive officer and president of Murray Energy

At one pit head, a dozen blackened faces emerged from a lift – this was the day shift, about half the size it would normally have been. Cuts are taking their toll. The mine will close by the end of the year.

Here, Hillary Clinton is a hate figure. A newspaper cutting, pinned to a wall, highlights her saying “We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.”

She later clarified that comment. What she meant to say was that the switch to cleaner energy would inevitably mean coal closures and that she wants to support communities making the transition. But the damage was done.

I talked to the mine’s owner, one of the leading figures in the coal industry, Robert Murray of the Murray Energy Corporation.

An outspoken defender of US coal, and prominent in launching legal challenges against the Clean Power Plan, he followed his father into the mines and keeps a polished lump of coal in his board-room.
While many coal mining companies declined our requests for interviews, Mr Murray jumped at the chance, and there was no holding him back.

“What happens is when two coal miners get laid off, if they own anything it’s their homes and, when they get laid off, they have no one to sell their homes to.

“So those people who just want to work in honour and dignity are denied that, and it’s not the America that I cherish… That’s why I speak out like I do, that’s why I say, Obama is a greater scourge than America has ever had in its history.”

Donald Trump would agree with all that. He sees coal as abundant and homegrown, and responsible for thousands of jobs. And he talks of revitalising the industry, which goes down very well in mining country.

The fact that it is the dirtiest fossil fuel is irrelevant in the Trump view because global warming is a “hoax” as he once called it, though he later said that was a joke.

So what about the alternative vision?

Only a hundred miles to the west, there’s a very different Ohio. The zoo in the city of Toledo has solar panels covering its walkways. The huge roof of the city’s famous Museum of Art is shining with them too.

With many major companies like Wal-Mart investing in renewable power, the sight of solar installations in this notoriously gas-guzzling nation is no longer so unusual.

On the edge of Toledo, in a landscaped business park, stand the sleek buildings of First Solar. A gigantic manufacturing hall is busy with robots and people working side-by-side. Together with a larger sister plant in southeast Asia, this company can boast of a remarkable statistic: it churns out a new solar panel every single second.

The executives do not want to be drawn into talking politics but they argue that we are witnessing a fundamental transformation: not only have solar panels increased in efficiency but they have also tumbled in price.

No longer is solar just a fad for the eco-conscious rich. The largest solar installations – “utility-scale” in the jargon – in the sunniest parts of the US can generate electricity that is comparable in cost to that of coal.

Though solar power is still intermittent, as with wind, the fall in cost does mean that during the hot days of high summer, when air-conditioning is running at full blast, the electricity supply can be carbon-free.

The implication is that solar power may be starting to make sense purely on financial grounds, regardless of any other motivation such as aiming to reduce carbon emissions.

At the state’s largest solar array, covering a long rolling field, Bill Spratley of Green Energy Ohio, a renewables advocacy group, told me that the new reality of cheaper renewable energy would change the debate.

“We have some politicians that are fighting the last war, they’re fighting over something, they still believe solar is in the future but it’s here now.

“We’ve probably passed the tipping point or the turning point and they just don’t know it yet.”

If solar costs keep falling, and coal continues to be undermined by shale gas, then it may be that a Trump victory would not do much to alter what could be an historic trend away from coal into cleaner sources of energy. Even outside the Paris Agreement, US energy companies and big corporations may still see logic in making the switch.

As we leave the solar farm, an engineer managing the installation joined the conversation. “Solar makes sense to me,” he said, “and I’m a Republican”.

Ohio solar power has moved from cottage industry to growth industry
Cleveland Plain Dealer, August 24, 2016
by John Funk
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Solar energy systems are proliferating across Ohio — growing by more than 23 percent in just the past year, an in-depth analysis of state records reveals.

The growth has come despite a law passed by Ohio lawmakers last year freezing state mandates for two years that since 2009 had required power companies to annually increase the percentage of solar- and wind-generated power they sold.

And significantly, most of Ohio’s 1,961 solar systems registered with state regulators as of May 30 were not small and not on residential roof tops, the analysis done by Green Energy Ohio has found.

Other key findings include:

> The largest 25 solar systems as of May 30 had a combined generating capacity of 74.4 megawatts, or 56 percent of the state-wide total solar generating capacity of just over 132 megawatts.
Most of the 25 largest solar arrays were in Northwest Ohio, while Northeast Ohio had only two large systems.

> One large municipal array, 4.3 megawatts built by Columbus-based American Renewable Power for the Minster, Ohio, municipal system, included a massive battery installation which can function as a backup as well as a profit-center because grid manager PJM Interconnection buys its reserve power to smooth out power flows over the high-voltage grid. It’s a model other municipal systems are looking at.

> Large solar installations already under construction will add another 34 megawatts of generating capacity this year. And that does not count the numerous small business and residential installations expected to come on line, each with a capacity of 3,000 to 6,000 watts on average.

American Electric Power’s announced plan to develop 400 megawatts of new solar power beginning as early as next year, if carried out, would be a “game changer.”

Green Energy Ohio, or GEO, already has published some of the results of its analysis on its website, but this week it will host an all-day public forum in Bowling Green on Thursday focusing on large-scale solar installations and on the details of the study. Click here for detailed information about the conference at: www.greenenergyohio.org.

The GEO findings and a day of presentations by some of the companies that have been building “big solar” come as summer wraps up and intense lobbying on the fate of the state’s freeze on renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates is expected to begin.

That freeze ends at the start of 2017 and lawmakers led by Sen. William Seitz, a conservative Republican from Cincinnati, are aiming to extend the freeze or do away with the mandate altogether, along with a parallel rule requiring electric utilities to help customers use less power.

Since most of the state’s utilities continued to offer customers efficiency programs despite the law, many believe the fight in the coming months will be limited to renewable energy.

Thursday’s “Building Big Solar Across Ohio” will feature 19 speakers and a detailed look at GEO’s analysis.

“Very large and commercial size solar electric systems are rapidly rising up across Ohio,” said Bill Spratley, GEO executive director, and a former Ohio Consumer Counsel.

“Ohio’s first Community Solar Projects are moving forward. Bowling Green, American Municipal Power and Next Era are now constructing Ohio’s largest solar field (20 megawatts) near Bowling Green which will highlight this conference,” Spratley said.

‘Big Solar’ conference comes to BG
Bowling Green Sentinel-Tribune,  August 24, 2016
by Sentinel-Tribune Staff
Bowling Green will soon be the site of the largest solar field in Ohio, and on Thursday a statewide conference will highlight that fact.

Green Energy Ohio will hold its “Building Big Solar Across Ohio” Conference at Stone Ridge Golf Club from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Registration information and a full schedule is available via www.greenenergyoh.org

“I think Bowling Green’s right at the center of it,” said Bill Spratley, GEO executive director, in a recent interview. “So I can’t think of a better place to have this conference.”

In May, Bowling Green City Council approved legislation allowing the solar project, located on 145 acres along Carter Road, to move forward. It is expected to be completed this winter and is to accommodate 20 megawatts of “single axis tracker” panels that can move along with the sun. The city is slated to subscribe to 13.74 megawatts of power from the project, and the project is expected to supply enough power for 3,000 homes.

Last month, the Wood County commissioners approved a tax break for the project.

Among more than 20 speakers, Thursday’s conference will feature two presentations focusing on the Bowling Green solar project: one at 9:15 a.m. which will include Brian O’Connell, the city’s utilities director, as well as representatives from American Municipal Power and Next Era Resources, who are contracting and owning and operating the facility, respectively; and a second at 3:15 p.m. which will include Donald Scherer, emeritus professor at Bowling Green State University, Neocles Leontis, professor of chemistry at BGSU and chair of the Green Team, Bowling Green High School DECA teacher Cara Maxey, Assistant Bowling Green Utilities Director Daryl Stockburger, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Earlene Kilpatrick, and Teresa Smith, business development manager with the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

In an interview Monday, Spratley noted that the Bowling Green project will be nearly twice the size of the current largest solar site in the state, the Wyandot solar project in Upper Sandusky.

He also said that in 2015, the amount of solar projects installed in the state increased from 120 to 132 megawatts. This year is set to outpace that figure by a wide margin — including the Bowling Green project, there may be as many as 33 megawatts coming online.

“So we see the solar percentage, it’s going to increase two or three times and that’s without even looking at the rooftop market,” Spratley said.

“Bowling Green is kind of the green gem to us because they were the first to put up the wind turbines and now this huge solar array,” he said.

Spotlight to Shine on Solar Energy &
Highlights of Study Focusing on Solar Installations in Ohio
Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune, August 21, 2016
by Vicki Johnson
Solar energy in northwest Ohio is in the spotlight this week, as Green Energy Ohio hosts its second statewide seminar on large solar arrays Thursday in Bowling Green.

In advance of the seminar, the nonprofit organization that focuses on renewable energy released a study Tuesday of the 25 largest grid-tied solar arrays, plus a first-ever county-by-county survey of solar photovoltaic installations.

At the top of the list is a new 20 megawatt solar field in Bowling Green scheduled to be connected with the city’s 69 kilovolt electric transmission line by the end of the year.

The project surpasses the 12 MW capacity of Wyandot Solar Farm in Wyandot County by Public Service Enterprise Group, which began operations in August 2010 and had been the largest array in the Ohio.

The Bowling Green project is a partnership among the city, American Municipal Power and Next Era Energy Resources.

Because of the large project Green Energy Ohio is planning its second Ohio solar conference in Bowling Green Thursday.

Green Energy Ohio is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting environmentally and economically sustainable energy policies and practices in Ohio, and the Ohio chapter of the American Solar Energy Society.

Building Big Solar Across Ohio is set for 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Thursday at Stone Ridge Golf Club, 1553 Muirfield Drive, Bowling Green. Advanced registration is due Monday. For details about 21 speakers and 11 sponsors and exhibitors, visit www.greenenergyohio.org or call (614) 985-6131.

“It’s fitting that the city of Bowling Green and its municipal utility are hosting the conference with the support of the Bowling Green and Toledo regional chambers of commerce,” said Bill Spratley, GEO executive director. “Back in May 2005, GEO awarded its first Ohio Clean Energy Community of the Year recognizing the city of Bowling Green and the Wood County commissioners for their support of Ohio’s first utility-scale wind farm in 2004.”

The four 1.8 MW wind turbines continue to power more than 2,000 homes.

“Very large and commercial-size solar electric systems are rapidly rising up across Ohio,” Spratley said. “And Ohio’s first community solar projects are moving forward.”

The conference also is to highlight municipal power solar installations at Minster (4.3 MW) and Clyde (3.6 MW), as well projects by county governments and rural electric cooperatives.

Since GEO’s solar conference in March 2015, Spratley said three utility-scale solar arrays in Minster, Clyde and Toledo have been added to the organization’s list of 25 largest solar arrays.

Bowling Green

By the end of December, a new 20 MW solar field is scheduled to be operational and interconnected with Bowling Green’s 69 kilovolt electric transmission line.

Information about the project to construct Ohio’s largest solar array was provided by Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of utilities for Bowling Green Municipal Utilities, for GEO News Magazine.

Stockburger was recipient of the GEO 2003 Pioneer of the Year Award for his work to install Ohio’s first utility-scale wind turbines near Bowling Green.

The project is an agreement between NextEra Energy and American Municipal Power, formally known as DG AMP Solar LLC.

Although the site is to be the largest of its kind in Ohio, Stockburger said “it is only the single largest piece of the picture, as DG AMP Solar will construct up to 26 solar fields across Ohio and several surrounding states.”

The solar sites are part of a single cooperative venture totaling 60-80 MW of solar power for participating AMP member communities.

Bowling Green has leased 165 acres of land to DG AMP Solar and agreed to purchase electric output from a 13.74 MW share of the project. On average, every electric customer in Bowling Green would receive 4.5 percent of annual electricity from solar power starting in 2017.

Combining all renewable energy sources including hydroelectric, wind and solar, Stockburger said renewable energy will provide BG customers with about 38 percent of their electrical use.

The city of Bowling Green (population 31,802) has owned its electric distribution system since 1942, and is one of the largest municipal electric systems in Ohio, serving more than 14,500 customers.

Clyde

The sixth-largest solar array in Ohio began operating in Clyde in June.

“The 3.66 MW array situated near the Clyde Wastewater Treatment Plant tracks the sun on a single axis and is named the Clyde Solar Energy Center,” said Joel Jansen, chief operating officer for AEP OnSite Partners, in GEO News Magazine.

The 12,000 PV panels are expected to generate more than 5 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

After looking at solar energy since 2011, Jansen said the project happened when AEP OnSite Partners and the city worked together. AEP owns and operates the system, while Clyde is to purchase all of the power produced in a 20-year power purchase agreement.

AEP leases 20 acres of land from the city.

Jansen said Clyde also owns stakes in hydroelectric plants along the Ohio River and a power purchase agreement with a wind farm in northwest Ohio, as well as coal and gas generation plants.

Minster

No. 4 on the top-25 list is a 4.3 MW array in Minster, which is coupled with an energy storage facility.

David Dwyer of American Renewable Energy said in GEO New Magazine the array covers 18 acres and is expected to provide about 13 percent of the village’s electrical needs, or about 5,500 megawatt hours a year. It went online in December 2015.

The PureWave SMS storage management system was supplied by S&C Electric Co. and is comprised of LG lithium-ion batteries, Dwyer said. The system is designed to allow Minster’s municipal electric system to reduce its peak demand charges and reduce spot market risk.

Owens Corning

The eighth largest solar system in Ohio is a 2.4 MW array at Owens Corning headquarters in downtown Toledo.

“The array is seated atop 32 rows of canopies covering the 935 spaces in the 9.5-acre parking lot of the facility, and is the largest solar canopy installation in Ohio,” said Frank O’Brien-Bernini, vice president and chief sustainability officer at Owens Corning in GEO News Magazine.

The array is expected to generate 3 million kilowatt hours of electricity, enough to meet about 30 percent of the power needs of the headquarters.

The array is equipped with two electric vehicle charging stations, which can charge up to four vehicles at a time.

Constellation, a subsidiary of Exelon Corp., owns, operates and maintains the array, and sells the energy to Owens Corning under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

The project is Owens Corning’s second solar project with Constellation, O’Brien-Bernini said. The first was a 2.7 MW array installed at an insulation manufacturing plant in Delmar, New York.

“This array supports Owens Corning increased goal of greenhouse gas reduction to 50 percent of its 2010 baseline (by 2020),” he said.

Hancock-Wood Electric

Although not on such a large scale, a project announced last week by Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative is expected to generate 100 KW of electricity for 11,000 member owners in northwest Ohio.

Ground is to be broken at 2 p.m. Friday on its OurSolar community solar array, according to a news release from the cooperative.

The array is to contain 300 panels at the northwest corner of US 224 and TR 215, east of Findlay. Each panel is to be 3 feet wide by 6.5 feet long.

Funded through Hancock-Wood’s statewide association and maintained by Hancock-Wood, the two-thirds-acre solar station is expected to be in service by early fall.

The OurSolar station is one of several being offered by Ohio’s electric cooperatives, but does not represent the only renewable energy for electric co-op distribution. Ohio electric co-ops receive 4.45 MW from four anaerobic digesters at Ohio dairy, pork and poultry operations, 3.2 MW from the Hancock County Landfill methane gas generation facility and 6.4 MW from Suburban Regional Landfill.

Also, Hancock-Wood is part of a 55-MW hydroelectric power project from the New York Power Authority, the largest state-owned power organization in the United States with power primarily generated from the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers.

To co-op serves portions of Seneca, Hancock, Wood, Allen, Erie, Hardin, Henry, Putnam, Sandusky and Wyandot counties. Members who would like more information about subscribing to OurSolar should visit www.hwe.coop/residential/oursolar-community-solar-project, call (800) 445-4840 or email info@hwe.coop.

Highlights of study focusing on solar installations in Ohio
Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune, August 21, 2016
Here are highlights from a study completed by Emily Sautter, Green Energy Ohio’s wind program manager, about 25 largest solar photovoltaic – or PV – installations in Ohio using data on each of the systems obtained from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio as of May 30.

Her findings are reported in the summer edition of GEO News Magazine,www.greenenergyoh.org/current-geo-news-magazine.

Overall, the PUCO database (as of May 30) listed 1,961 solar PV installations, an increase of 23.3 percent from 2015. Total capacity was more than 132 MW, an increase of 9.7 percent.

The top 25 systems represent 74.4 megawatts of the 132.5 MW, about 56 percent of the total installed solar PV in Ohio.

The majority of the 25 largest installations are in northwest Ohio (16) followed by southwest Ohio (5), northeast Ohio (2) and Central Ohio (2).

Sites for ground-mount and rooftop applications include airports, factories, municipal and investor-owned utilities, commercial buildings, zoos, schools and universities.

There is at least one solar PV installation in 87 of Ohio’s 88 counties, with Noble County having none, according to the PUCO database.

The majority of the solar PV capacity is comprised of relatively few, large systems including 133 systems (6.8 percent of the state total) rated at 100 kilowatts or more, which make up 108.2 MW of the state total of 132.5 MW, or 81.7 percent of the capacity.

The large solar arrays added clean energy capacity to Ohio’s electric grid with 45.9 MW to four investor-owned utilities and 28.4 MW to nine municipal public power utilities.

While 19 of the 25 large solar arrays are power purchase agreements financed by third-party investors, four are privately owned and two are utility owned.

Statewide Solar Energy Conference Set in BG
BG Independent News, August 10, 2016
by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Solar energy developments across Ohio will be discussed by 20 expert speakers on Thursday, Aug. 25 at the Green Energy Ohio’s Building Big Solar Across Ohio Conference.

“This is the most comprehensive look at solar energy across Ohio ever presented – showing the statewide extent of currently operating solar energy systems and the growing list of solar installs expected in coming years,” said Bill Spratley, GEO executive director.

Conference topics include:

– GEO’s new list of Ohio’s 25 largest solar installations and installed solar in Ohio counties;

– Ohio’s largest solar installation of 20 MW, now under construction at Bowling Green;

– The state’s first “Community Solar” projects by municipal and rural cooperative utilities; and,

– How large-scale solar battery storage and solar tracking systems are operating in Ohio.

The GEO News Magazine Summer Edition next week will also release a new survey of solar energy installations in every county of Ohio and a new listing of the top 25 largest solar arrays in the state. This first-ever county-by-county survey will also be discussed at the Bowling Green conference.

The day-long event at the Stone Ridge Golf Club in Bowling Green is expected to attract community leaders, solar developers, electric utilities, financiers, installers, and contractors along with manufacturers, retailers, government officials, educators, farmers and consumers. See registration and details on GEO’s website at: www.greenenergyohio.org.

Charity Sister Paula Gonzalez, ‘the solar nun,’ dies at age 83
National Catholic Reporter, August 9, 2016
Environmentalists are mourning the death of Charity Sr. Paula Gonzalez, a Cincinnati nun who spent the last 45 years of her life advocating for renewable energy. Gonzalez, 83, died July 31 at the Charity Sisters’ Ohio motherhouse.

Born on Oct. 25 1932, in Albuquerque, N.M., Gonzalez entered the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in 1954. She later earned a Ph.D. in cellular physiology from the Catholic University of America and taught biology at Mount St. Joseph University, in Cincinnati, from 1965-1980 before becoming involved full time in environmental ministry.

That included participating in the United Nations Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro – which produced a global blueprint for sustainable development and formed the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change — and its 10-year follow-up in Johannesburg, South Africa.

According to the U.K.-based Catholic Herald, Gonzalez called the Rio conference that gathered nearly 20,000 people “a watershed moment in history,” saying “This many people coming together to choose the future: This is the beginning of the ecological era.”

‘The solar nun’

Widely known as “the solar nun,” it is probably no surprise that “Paula died on a SUN-day,” reflected Canadian Charity Sr. Maureen Wild, spokesperson for Sisters of Earth, an organization of religious and lay women dedicated to healing the planet. In 1996, members of the brand new organization visited Gonzalez’s “La Casa del Sol” (“The House of the Sun”) green home during their summer meeting in Grailville, Ohio.

La Casa del Sol was Gonzalez’s first major foray into the realm of renewable energy. The 1,500 square-foot passive-solar, super-insulated home cost less than $10 per square foot to build, she told Mother Earth News Magazine in the May-June 1986 issue. Beginning in 1982, every Saturday for three years a group of 30-plus volunteers worked to renovate an old chicken barn into the new structure using used recycled materials, including metal salvage. Gonzalez financed the project through garage sales that collected close to $13,000.

Her experiment was a success. When the weather plummeted to zero in February 1985, La Casa del Sol remained at 50 degrees. She revved up the heat a bit by feeding the wood stove with a few leftover construction scraps. Gonzalez and La Case del Sol were featured in the PBS series Earthkeepers in 1993.

In 1991, using the same garage sale financing formula, she turned an old four-car garage into EarthConnection, a 21st century solar-heated energy efficient building. Now a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, EarthConnection serves as an educational center offering programs in sustainable agriculture, alternative energies, eco justice and eco-spirituality.

Early roots of ecological passion

Gonzalez told NCR in a 2011 interview that she traced part of her passion for ecology to the first Earth Day in 1970 when she was inspired by the outpouring of enthusiasm across the United States. A few years later when controversy erupted over a new proposed nuclear power plant, she realized that protesting by itself cannot solve energy problems. Creating life-sustaining alternatives needed to be a part of the plan, too.

But the original roots of her passion were lovingly cultivated through childhood experiences. Growing up in Albuquerque, she spent hours of contentment helping her father Hilario in his vegetable garden.

“He would tell me, ‘The Earth is sacred,’” she told Eco Catholic in 2011.

At an early age her soul was touched by the God she referred to as “The Great Living One” – a Divinity she grew to recognize as being present throughout all of creation. Topics from some of her talks and writings reflected this: “Living in a Eucharistic Universe,” “Called to Tend the Sacred” and “The Our Father: Our Environmental Prayer.”

Gonzalez shared her Lord’s Prayer meditation in an October 2007 piece for St. Anthony Messenger. Using Sufi author Dr. Neil Douglas-Klotz’s Aramaic translation, she wrote that in “Our Father, Who Art in Heaven,” Father actually meant birther of the cosmos and that heaven would actually be the universe.

“When we proclaim God’s name as ‘hallowed’ (holy), do we recognize the echo of God’s name in the wonder all around us? Might God be calling us to be co-creators of a transformed Earth, a heaven of peace and harmony?” she wrote.

Gonzalez was adept at combining the practical with the mystical in the more than 1,800 talks, lectures and retreats that she presented across the world. In the MotherEarth article, she explained that she often invited individuals to consider “what might happen if, instead of fighting (all the way up to nuclear war) to extend the ‘good old days’ of the petroleum era, we began to tap our boundless creativity and imagination to design the ‘better new days’?”

In 2005 the American Solar Energy Society’s Ohio chapter, Green Energy Ohio, gave the nun their Lifetime Achievement Award.

Two years later, while attending a solar conference in Cleveland, she and engineer Keith Mills were inspired to address the issue of global warming and agreed to co-found the Ohio affiliate of the Regeneration Project, a ministry sponsored by Interfaith Power and Light. In 2014, the Cincinnati Inquirer honored Gonzalez as one of its “Women of the Year.”

The publication in June 2015 of Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home” thrilled Gonzalez, who told NCR she was excited he included “a lot of background stuff,” predicting that “he’s going to grab the attention of the global community for sure.”

‘A force of nature’

News of Gonzalez’s death prompted reactions of sadness and love, from a few of the individuals she has influenced in her ministry.

One of them is environmental songwriter, Joyce Rouse, aka Earth Mama, who first met Gonzalez in the early 1990s. The Charity sister left her mark on a few of Earth Mama’s songs, among them: “We All Breath the Same Air,” “The Perfect House” and “Follow the Sun.”

“She became an enthusiastic supporter of my making music for Earth Literacy,” Rouse said. “Every conversation with her was an opportunity to soak up a deeper understanding of the universal connectedness of all things.”

Brian Swimme, a professor of evolutionary cosmology at the California Institute of Integral Studies and the co-author of The Universe Story with Passionist Fr. Thomas Berry, considered Gonzalez as being “sent from the future to show us how to live with intelligence and wisdom.

“The fire in her! Paula was 20 years older than me and when I first met her I thought to myself, ‘I hope I have her energy at her age,’… Prophet, inventor, scientist gadfly, leader, Sr. Paula was first and foremost an inspiration for us trying to live an ecological life,” Swimme said.

Mary Evelyn Tucker, director of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology, said she will remember her friend as “a force of nature that lives on in our midst. She lived in a world of energy of her own creation while drawing on the power of the universe.”

Sara Ward, director of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, lauded Gonzalez for “helping us understand how weatherization for the poor was also helping to reduce our use of fossil fuels which were polluting our air.”

Ward saw the sister in June when the IPL board met at EarthConnection for its annual retreat. “Even in her limited physical capacity Paula mustered the strength to join us each day for a few hours, lifting us all with her presence, and yes, her still strong voice for caring for God’s amazing creation,” she said.

Ward witnessed the nun’s green burial and rite of committal on Aug. 2 at the Cincinnati motherhouse cemetery, describing it as “sweet and simple.”

“The sun was shining, there were puffs of clouds, dragonflies, butterflies, birds and all manner of God’s creation came together to honor her. As she was presented for burial in her white shroud we gathered and said prayers and petitions as a community, sprinkled her with water and laid flowers all around her,” Ward recounted.

Ward added she was both full of sorrow and joy all at once “as I could just sense her delight as we gathered around her. So peaceful, beautiful and full of grace.”

The group said their final goodbye to the five-foot-tall ecological giant with this prayer:

“Into the beauty of mother earth, we release you. Into the freedom of wind and sunshine, into the dance of the stars and planets. We release you into the next part of our spiritual journey as you walk hand in hand with your creator God. We release you to go safely, go dancing, go joyfully home.”

Worthington group planning bulk buys to get deal on solar
Columbus Dispatch, August 6, 2016
Kelsey Husnick
If there’s power in numbers, that power is solar and those numbers mean big savings on solar-panel installations for homeowners in Worthington.

Worthington homeowners interested in using solar energy in their homes are forming a group that aims to receive bulk-buying discounts on installation.

A group led by Green Energy Ohio, which promotes renewable energy use and whose director is a Worthington resident, met Thursday evening at the Worthington Presbyterian Church. About two dozen homeowners expressed interest in taking their homes solar.

They’re working with Ohio Solar United Neighborhoods, a nonprofit group helping homeowners across the state go solar, to educate residents and guide them through the paperwork and buying process.

“Collective buying power helps get you get a really competitive price (that companies) wouldn’t be able to give you as an individual homeowner,” said Luke Sulfridge, program manager of Ohio Solar United Neighborhoods.

To get the best price on solar panels, Sulfridge said the group needs at least 100 roofs to obtain about a 20 percent discount on installation.

That brings the cost down to about $9,000 from about $10,500 for a basic 3-kilowatt solar array, which Sulfridge said is typical of most homes. Federal tax credits are also available for 30 percent of the installation fee, so participants in the Worthington group are essentially paying half of the market price to go solar.

Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio, said the demand for this initiative is present because it tackles two things people care about: “People can save money as well as save the environment.”

Once the solar array is installed, it immediately starts saving homeowners money on their electricity bill.

Attending the informational meeting was Craig Foster, a Clintonville resident who has wanted to go solar for about 40 years. The cost had never been right, he said, but now that groups such as this are forming, he’s shopping around for the best price and finding it to be a more obtainable goal.

The Worthington group is the fourth of its kind in the state and will allow residents in the nearby areas of Dublin, Westerville and Columbus participate as well. Ohio Solar United Neighborhoods have helped start groups in Lorain County, Cuyahoga County and, most recently, Delaware County.

“It’s really exciting to see renewable energy take off in our state,” Sulfridge said. “My grandfather was a coal miner, so seeing that transition is interesting.”

Solar Energy Across Ohio Today!
America’s Workforce Radio – Cleveland, July 25, 2016
Ed “Flash” Ferenc
On the broadcast today we had Bill Spratley, Executive Director of Green Energy Ohio, and he talked about Solar Energy Across Ohio Today! Radio podcast posted on July 25, 2016

Cuyahoga Solar Co-Op aims to reduce home solar prices by 20 percent
The Plain Dealer,
July 5, 2016
John Funk

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Ever since former President Jimmy Carter put solar thermal panels on the White House, some Americans have been dreaming of turning their roofs into solar electric generators and slashing their utility bills.

Now, it’s happening and growing at a pace that even the experts would have questioned possible five years ago.

Spreading the solar gospel as Green Energy Ohio has done for years has helped keep small solar alive even after a federal tax credit for consumers expired and installers moved to build larger arrays for commercial customers and institutions and sought business opportunities out of state where solar was more supported…

Read full article here

Annual Ohio tour reaches out to state lawmakers on clean energy
Midwest Energy News, June 3, 2016
by Kathiann M. Kowalski
20150819_094551Organizers of an annual clean energy tour in Ohio this weekend are hoping to use the event to persuade state lawmakers of the sector’s economic importance.
PHOTO: RainFresh Harvests Greenhouse, near Plain City, Ohio, features 2.1 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic panels, a 1.0 kW wind turbine and solar thermal collectors in an off-the-grid sustainable greenhouse

The Green Energy Ohio Tour is a free statewide event June 3-5 that gives people a chance to meet and talk with neighbors, business owners and others who live and work with clean energy technologies on a day-to-day basis.

Organizers hope legislators will pay special attention this year before acting on pending bills, such as Senate Bill 320, which could significantly hinder the growth of renewable energy in the state.

“We’ve invited each legislator to go on the tour…to actually see these developments on the ground here in Ohio,” said William Spratley, executive director for Green Energy Ohio. “We think this is a hands-on opportunity to ‘kick the tires’ and see that there are real jobs and there are real solar, wind and other renewable installations all over Ohio.”

Green Energy Ohio is a member of RE-AMP, which publishes Midwest Energy News.

‘Seeing is believing’

A dozen guided tours are planned across the state, including visits to a solar and battery storage project in Minster and a tour of solar energy sites in Holmes County, which is home to a sizeable percentage of Ohio’s Amish population.

Some of the guided tours require free online registration and offer refreshments to participants. Others are on a drop-in basis.

Green Energy Ohio will also offer dozens of informal open houses for visitors, ranging from private homes to businesses and public facilities, such as the Oberlin Fire Department, Akron Zoo and McKinley Presidential Library and Museum in Canton.

“Our tour is just a slice of what’s out there,” noted Spratley.

Green Energy Ohio’s tours have featured more than 800 sites in 66 counties since they began in 2001. Those numbers do not include many other places with clean energy technology, Spratley added, such as dozens of Walmart and Walgreens stores and other commercial establishments across the state.

“I think seeing is believing,” Spratley said. In his view, growth in clean energy is happening, “and it’s happening very rapidly.”

‘We’ve been shackled’

Extension of a key federal tax credit in December has been very helpful for the industry, Spratley said. Yet much of the industry’s rapid growth in Ohio was spurred by SB 221, which established Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards in 2008.

Since then, the price for solar, wind and other types of renewable energy has dropped significantly. A June 2016 report by GTM Research forecast that prices for utility-scale photovoltaics will fall to $1 per watt by 2020.

Similarly, prices for wind energy have fallen more than 60 percent in recent years, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Nationwide, more new wind energy generation was installed last year than any other type of electricity production, the group reported.

Since 2014, however, Ohio’s renewable energy industry has faced significant drawbacks, including a tripling of wind turbine property line setbacks, weakening of the state standards, and a “freeze” on those standards.

“We unleashed the full force of Ohio there for a few years,” with policies to promote growth in the industry, said Spratley. But now, he noted, “we’ve been shackled.”

Most recently, state Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) introduced SB 320, which would further freeze Ohio’s clean energy standards for at least another three years. Without further action by state lawmakers, the standards would resume next year.

Other provisions in SB 320 would curtail customers’ net metering rights by letting utilities pay them less or impose charges. Provisions would also let utilities own and operate solar energy facilities under different rules from those that apply to competitors.

American Electric Power (AEP) has also been pressing for similar restrictions, and Spratley said the industry in Ohio “will certainly push back.”

“We just think economically that doesn’t make sense,” Spratley said.

“The irony of this is we see big corporations everywhere going green,” he added.

Exceptions were worked out to let some wind energy be built for a new Amazon facility, Spratley noted. Yet in his view, the overall effect of recent state action has been “to stymie investment in Ohio.”

“If you’re concerned about growing jobs, this is where it’s at,” Spratley stressed. “Every day we take incentives away from Ohioans, you’re just giving an advantage to the other states around us.”

“There is a huge market in Ohio,” Spratley added. In fact, it’s the seventh largest state by population, he said. “We just need to act like it and hope the statehouse gets the message.”

Green Energy Tour Begins at Solar House
Springfield Sun-News, June 3, 2016
The Springfield Southwest Guided Green Energy Tour will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday as part of a statewide tour this weekend.

The event will begin at the Westcott Solar House, 85 S. Greenmount Ave., and travel to six sites throughout Clark County.  Reservations aren’t required.

The tour will be guided by Jim Groeber and includes stops at the Assurant Group, Riverdale Auto Care and three local homes.

For more information, log on to www.greenenergyohio.org/ost.

Green Energy Ohio Solar Tours Are This Weekend (20 photos)
Cleveland Plain Dealer, Thursday, June 2, 2016
by John Funk

PD Tour Article Funk June 2 2016The solar business is expanding, accelerated by the extension of the federal tax credit last December for five years and by decreasing prices for solar panels, related electronics and hardware.

A year ago the non-profit solar advocate Green Energy Ohio estimated that 120 megawatts of solar had been built across the state, about 20 percent of that in smaller residential systems.

“I would estimate, without an in-depth study, that there are at least 135 megawatts of installed PV across Ohio,” said William Spratley, CEO of Green Energy Ohio. The organization expects to release a more formal estimate in August.

Municipal power systems and public schools have become more interested in solar, and the state’s rural co-ops are looking at building a number of 2 megawatt installations, Spratley said. Plus, businesses, for example Walmart, are continuing to build solar.

And American Electric Power has indicated it is seriously considering building very large solar installations, spending billions of dollars doing it.

All of this is occurring as Ohio lawmakers continue to think about eliminating the state’s renewable energy law requiring investor-owned utilities such as AEP and FirstEnergy to build, or buy renewable power.

For these reasons Spratley said he decided to move up the annual statewide solar tours from October to this upcoming weekend, June 4, 5, and 6. A smaller, more focused tour is still planned for the fall.

There are free guided tours this weekend and enough information on the GEO website to enable anyone to build a self-guided tour.

Click here to register for a guided tour or here for a map and description of the 43 open house sites in Northeast Ohio.

New Franklin home that boasts large solar array will be part of Green Energy Ohio Tour
Akron Beacon Journal, Wednesday, June 1, 2016
A residence in New Franklin that boasts a solar array that is thought to be among the largest in Northeast Ohio will be the site of an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in conjunction with the 14th annual Green Energy Ohio Tour.

The home is at 5497 Grove Road.

Attendees can learn about solar financing, installation and utility interconnection. For more information about the open house and the Greater Akron Guided Tour, visit the Green Energy Ohio website or call Ryan Veith at YellowLite Solar at 216- 452-9295,

YellowLite Solar, in downtown Cleveland, installed the solar rooftop array at the New Franklin home, owned by Mark Sedlack, earlier this year.

YellowLite is among solar energy companies showcasing their installations for the Green Energy Ohio Tour. Green Energy is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Ohio. Members include companies in the solar industry.

Green Energy Ohio’s East of Cleveland Tour includes some great advice on electric vehicles and charging
Cleveland Plain Dealer, Wednesday, June 1, 2016
by Terry Troy
If you’ve ever thought of owning an electric vehicle to save on fuel or reduce your carbon footprint, this weekend you’ll get the chance to ask some questions. Green Energy Ohio (GEO), a non-profit renewable energy advocate, is showcasing clean energy and green design in local area tours from Friday June 3 through Sunday June 5.

You can basically take a guided tour, or design your own tour at GEO’s website: greenenergyoh.org.

The East of Cleveland guided tour not only covers a unique look at alternative energy use, but also gives you the opportunity to see some homemade electric vehicles up close. The tour also includes stops at owners of new electric vehicles. There are also GEO guided tours offered in Medina County, Oberlin and Akron as well.

The East of Cleveland guided tour starts at 9:00 a.m. at Lake Metroparks Farmpark on Saturday, June 4. It’s a bus tour that is free and open to the public. It takes until 3:30 p.m. or so, and a free lunch is included, courtesy of Bulldog Battery in Willoughby. But space is limited, and reservations are required. If you can’t make it on the bus, you can still take your own self-guided tour to find out more about electric vehicles and green energy.

The first stop on the East of Cleveland tour is Tom Rapini’s house in Mentor. Rapini is an engineer who was trained at the University of Akron and later worked at such prestigious organizations like Allen-Bradley, General Dynamics and Firestone. Rapini not only built his own electric vehicle, but also the solar array that charges it. Rapini converted an old Honda 600 into electric operation, originally using used golf cart batteries.

“I went really low budget when I started out,” says Rapini, “I used surplus parts and used golf cart batteries. I now have lithium ion batteries, which has been an investment of about $3,600.

“Originally, the conversion only cost a couple of thousand dollars, but it also required hundreds of hours of work.”
While Rapini described the process, as “not that difficult,” you have to take his extensive engineering background into account. Still, if you take the tour, or stop by at his open house on a self-guided tour this weekend, Rapini can offer some great advice on converting a vehicle for electric operation, or what it 1takes to build the solar array that charges his vehicle.

“I am also hoping to have a couple of other homemade electric vehicle conversions on hand as well,” Rapini adds.

PHOTO: Tom Rapini’s yellow Honda 600 stands next to his photo voltaic array.

Green Ohio Guided Tour highlights solar energy in the region
Wooster Weekly News, May 31, 2016
by Scott Daniels
Another stop on the guided tour includes the Dick Coin residence in Chardon. Coin owns a Nissan Leaf as well as a converted Geo Metro and an electric lawn tractor, says Rapini.

The guided tour will also stop at the Roginski House in Jefferson. His residence is powered by both solar and wind power, but you can get some great electric vehicle advice there as well. Mike Roginski, who owns a Nissan Leaf, can tell you how to take advantage of all the free charging stations in our area to extend the range of your electric vehicle while on the road.

“Mike takes full advantage of public charging stations as well as the charging available at Nissan dealerships for Leaf owners,” says Rapini. “While a Leaf has a normal cruising range of 70 to 80 miles, Mike is able to extend that to 120 to 130 miles using infrastructure that is already available. That incudes a fast charging station in Western Pennsylvania.”

Reservation information can be found at the website mentioned above. If you can’t make the guided tour, use the website to configure a self-guided tour. But please visit during the prescribed hours for the open house, and always be respectful when you visit.

This is the 14th GEO Tour event. It features over 85 tour sites holding open houses with installed solar, wind, energy efficiency and other green energy technologies across our state.

“The free GEO Tour is a great opportunity for Ohioans to learn first-hand about the latest in solar, wind, biomass and energy efficiency,” says Bill Spratley, GEO’s executive director. “As federal tax incentives were extended at the end of 2015 and solar prices are at record lows, now is the time to start acting to install solar as well as other cost-saving green technologies.”
With public concerns about the continuing use of finite fossil fuels to generate electricity, use of the sun for that purpose is becoming an attractive alternative for some applications, and the chance to gain information is coming to Wayne County Saturday, June 4 with the Wayne County Green Energy Ohio Guided Tour and Climate/Solar Photovoltaic Workshop.

The day offers tours of several installations of solar panels in various configurations and applications, ending with informational workshops.

The tour, which is free, begins at 9:15 a.m. Preregistration is required.

Stuart Mykrantz, a Wayne County Sustainable Energy Network trustee, said the tour, which is part of a three-day statewide event sponsored by Green Energy Ohio, is an ideal opportunity “to become an educated investor” in solar technology.

“Anyone who is interested in a solar array installation but is not sure what they may need or what is currently available can come and learn if such a thing might be cost effective.”

The first stop on the tour is Christ United Church of Christ, 301 N. Main Street, Orrville. “The church, which remains tied to the overall electrical grid, found the installation to be cost effective. “The church will be an example of a nonprofit utilizing solar energy,” Mykrantz said. The church visit will include an overview of the remainder of the tour, which will proceed via carpool and caravan to the remaining stops.

The next stop is the Smucker Farm, 2429 Paradise Road, Orrville. Mykrantz said the Smucker Farm will allow visitors to see a 99-panel solar array.

“Here you’ll be able to learn about some of the tax benefits of a solar installation,” he said. Wolff Brothers Supply, 565 Applecreek Road, Wooster, will present a commercial-sized solar array.

Next, Trotting Traditions Horse Farm, 7500 South Kansas Road, Apple Creek, will demonstrate an Amish farm using solar energy. The farm is not connected to the national energy grid and is self-sustaining.

The final stop on the tour is The Wilderness Center, 9877 Alabama Ave. SW, Wilmot. A large solar array tied to the grid will be seen. This last stop is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

Each of the solar installations on the tour have been installed using different equipment and by different installers, offering the opportunity to see a wide range of possibilities.

Mykrantz said in previous years the tours had been held in the fall and were self-guided. “GEO wanted us to offer guided tours and workshops afterward. This is the first spring tour we’ve put together. The great thing about the tour is the ability to see so many options: roof mounted, ground mounted, etc., all of them in operation in a short amount of time.”

The tour includes a lunch at 1 p.m. at the Wilderness Center.

At 1:30 p.m. workshops will address concerns about carbon emissions, a typical solar installation and proposal and community PV options. The day should finish by 4 p.m. with a return to Christ UCC in Orrville.

To register for the tour call Stuart Mykrantz at 234-249-4399 or visitwww.2016waynecountytour.eventbrite.com.

The Wayne County Sustainable Energy Network website is at www.wcsen.org. All members and trustees of the organization are unpaid volunteers.

Ohio renewable energy locations open for tours – Cities include Maumee, Tiffin
Toledo Blade, Sunday, May 29, 2016
by Tom Henry

Dozens of sites that have incorporated wind power, solar power, or other forms of renewable energy or conservation measures across Ohio are being opened to visitors again under a 14th statewide tour sponsored by Green Energy Ohio.

All past tours have been held in October, but this year, GEO moved them up to June — Friday, Saturday, and Sunday — while leaving open the possibility of another round of tours in the familiar October time slot.

The tours are run in a Parade-of-Homes format, in which visitors for the most part develop their own schedules.

Open houses in northwest Ohio include ones in Maumee at the Osborne residence, 3982 Secluded Ravine Ct., which will showcase energy efficient features, solar panels, and geothermal systems from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Three open houses will be held in Tiffin:

● The Straw Bale House at the Franciscan Earth Literacy Center on the Sisters of St. Francis campus, 194 St. Francis Ave., which will show solar panels and other designs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday

● Coppus Motors Inc., 2190 W. Market St., which will show solar panels from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday

● The Doepker residence, 4253 S. Township Rd. 151, which will show a solar panel from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.

There also will be a guided tour of the Minster Solar Project from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.

The site for that tour is at 2768 Minster-Fort Recovery Rd., Minster, Ohio.

All tours are free, and most do not require reservations. Check the GEO website, greenenergyohio.org/ost, for links to set up visits across Ohio and to learn more about the tours.

Bill Spratley, GEO’s executive director, said northwest Ohio traditionally has been one of Ohio’s leading regions for research and development of wind power, solar power, and other renewable energy technologies.

“I have a lot of confidence northwest Ohio will continue to lead,” he said.

The decision was made to offer tours in June, Mr. Spratley said, in part because of the anticipated distractions this fall from the 2016 presidential election. Ohio also has “had lousy weather the last three years” in October, he said.

Mr. Spratley said this year would be a good time for people to encourage their elected officials to take tours or at least learn more about renewable energy. The Ohio General Assembly is expected to consider a bill that would make permanent the state’s two-year freeze on renewable-energy mandates.

GEO has offered visits to 900 sites in 66 counties since 2003, he said.

Renewables are growing in the marketplace, Mr. Spratley said, and those who oppose them are “like the buggy-whip manufacturers trying to stop the first automobiles.”

Akron Zoo included in Green Energy Ohio Tour
Stow Sentry, Wednesday, May 27, 2016
Akron Zoo - Stow Sentry
The Akron Zoo, Kent State Solar array, KB Bio Energy, Nature Realm and Hattie’s Gardens at the Akron Zoo will showcase their green efforts during the 14th annual Green Energy Ohio Tour on June 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Participants will meet at the Akron Zoo at 500 Edgewood Ave., starting at 8:30 a.m. to sign-in. For the first 60 guests registered, a free lunch and a free trolley ride will be provided to each location compliments of the City of Akron. Other participants may caravan in their own vehicles. During the tour the Akron Zoo, Old Trail School, Bridgestone Americas and Hattie’s Gardens at the Akron Zoo will showcase their sustainability efforts and share how they became some of the greenest businesses in the area.

Participation in the tour is free, but people need to register by calling 330-375-2550 ext. 7310.

°The Green Energy Ohio Tour is managed by Green Energy Ohio (www.greenenergyohio.org) and is part of the National Solar Tour in partnership with the American Solar Energy Society (ASES). The tour is the largest demonstration of installed renewable energy°technologies°and energy efficient building practices in the United States.°°

In addition to the tours in Summit County, Stark County will also offer a guided tour that will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, 800 McKinley Monument Road, NW, in Canton. For reservations, call Lynette at the McKinley Museum at 330-455-7043.

Solar tour visits Stark sites
Canton Repository, Wednesday, May 25, 2016
The 2016 Stark County Solar Tour will take place from 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 4 starting at the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, 800 McKinley Monument Road NW.

Participants will carpool and caravan to four sites in the county.

Free parking is available, along with complimentary coffee and snacks. A complimentary lunch will be provided at the Wilderness Center followed by a climate and solar PV workshop.

For reservations, call Lynette at the McKinley Museum at 330-455-7043, or register online at www.2016starkcountytour.eventbrite.com.

Additional tours are planned in Holmes and Wayne counties, as well as The Greater Akron Tour at the Akron Zoo. All tours are free.
Visit www.greenenergyohio.org/ost for more details.
AEP could charge customers using solar panels
Channel 10 WBNS Columbus. Wednesday, April 27, 2016
by Ashlee Baracy

Solar Tax WBNS
Homeowners in central Ohio with solar panels feel like they may have to cut ties altogether with their utility company and it isn’t because they are producing their own energy.

“It concerns us that the utility is considering putting extra charges on homeowners,” Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio, said.

Spratley is one of several homeowners in Central Ohio with solar panels on his home.

With more and more people using solar energy, Trish Demeter of the Ohio Environmental Council, isn’t surprised this is becoming an issue here.

“Something like a solar tax has actually happened in other states, not just Ohio, so it’s a trend we are seeing across the country,” Demeter said.

Right now in Ohio, customers can receive utility bills with a zero balance because they generate enough electricity to offset charges, but American Electric Power says if you’re still connected to the power grid, you are still using the service that the grid provides.

“Those customers that stay on it, not paying for that infrastructure especially when they use it, transfers those costs to everyone else,” Terri Flora of AEP said.

This charge that AEP is advocating for is something similar to the fee that is tagged onto a cable bill every month for the use of the provider’s cable box.

No matter how much or little you watch television, you are still assessed a fee for having the equipment. In theory, the power company is looking at their grid in a similar way.

“We’re looking at those who have solar panels who need to use our grid simply to pay the fair share of using that grid,” Flora said.
However, if power companies try to increase fees for these homeowners that have solar panels, they have the option to permanently disconnect from the grid.

“We have some homes and some businesses that are doing that right now in Ohio, so I hope it doesn’t come to that. The reality is we once had wire line phones, now we all have cell phones,” Spratley said.

If more people disconnect, that’s less money for the utility company. On the flip side, Spratley says they are helping AEP on hot, sunny days.

“We’re reducing their costs and their need to go into the peak power market to buy expensive power which is called peak power,” Spratley said.

Any additional charges will have to be approved by the Public Utility Commission of Ohio. They say that no utility companies have proposed that kind of fee to them yet.

See broadcast at:   See “Solar Tax” article.  See AEP CEO article commenting on solar.

Minster receives national, state energy awards
Celina Daily Standard, April 22, 2016
by Jared Mauch

MINSTER – Recent additions of a solar field and energy storage site to the village’s electric system are gaining state and national recognition.The village received awards this month from Green Energy Ohio and the Smart Electric Power Alliance for tying the new 4.2 megawatt solar field west of the village on Minster-Fort Recovery Road and the 7 megawatt energy storage site on North Ohio Street into the village’s electric system.”To the best of our knowledge, we are the first public power community to combine a solar array with a battery storage system in the United States,” village administrator Don Harrod said.Green Energy Ohio named Minster the 2015 Ohio Clean Energy Community of the Year for the sustainability created by the two projects.The village also received high marks for the first time from the Smart Electric Power Alliance for installing 2,104 watts per customer in 2015. The mark put Minster at No. 1 on the Top 10 list of watts per customer for the year.The top five in the category included Dominion North Carolina Power, 1,946 watts; City of Palo Alto Utilities, 1,846 watts; Carey Municipal Power & Light, 1,351; and Guam Power Authority, 661 watts.It is the first time the village has been recognized by either group, Harrod said.”The village is honored to be recognized by both the Smart Electric Power Alliance and Green Energy Ohio,” he said.”The electricity from the solar field goes directly onto the village’s electric grid and is used by the customers of the village’s electric system,” he said.The solar field will lower energy costs for the village’s customers by reducing the amount of energy to be purchased on the open market. Customers will see a lower cost as long as the rate the village pays for the solar power is lower than the market rate for electricity, Harrod said.There are no transmission costs for the solar field-generated electricity, a factor that also will lower costs.The savings each costumer can receive will be reflected in the village’s power cost adjuster, shown on the back of each customer’s utility bill, Harrod said.The solar field was completed in December and the storage site construction wrapped up in March with the help of American Renewable Energy and Power; both are owned by Half Moon Ventures of Chicago.The projects cost a total of $18 million, which was paid by Half Moon. The venture group will also pay the village $1,000 a month for 25 years for the North Ohio Street property.Village officials plan an open house at the solar field and storage sites on May 7. Times have yet to be determined.See Minster Solar presentation by Minster Village Administrator Don Harrod at the April 7th GEO Ohio Green Energy Policy Conference at Ohio State University.See aerial photo of the Winter 2016 GEO News Magazine showing the 4.3 MW Minster Solar Array with cover story about Minster solar/battery system.  See Clean Technica article on Minister Solar.
Minster recognized with“Ohio Clean Energy Community of the Year” award
Sidney Daily News, April 12, 2016
MINSTER — Minster received the prestigious “Ohio Clean Energy Community of the Year” award from Green Energy Ohio (GEO) at GEO’s Ohio Green Energy Policy Conference held on April 7 at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center at Ohio State University in Columbus.

Minster 2015 Award

PHOTO: Executive Director of Green Energy Ohio William Spratley, left, presents the award for “Ohio Clean Energy Community of the Year” to Nicole Clune, council member of the Village of Minster, and Donald Harrod, village administrator of the Village of Minster, at GEO’s Ohio Green Energy Policy Conference held on April 7.

at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center at Ohio State University in Columbus.Minster is now the site of the only utility-scale solar energy system built in the state since the Ohio Senate passed SB 310 in the summer of 2014, crippling the state’s Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SRECs) market. In December 2015 the 4.3 Megawatt (Mw) solar generator was put in service, producing a healthy portion of Minster’s substantial industrial and commercial demand.

When Minster included the 7Mw/3Mwh energy storage (ESS) in March 2016, the combined solar power and storage system, conceived and developed by American Renewable Energy, LLC., (ARE) became the largest in service for public power in the United States.

In March, ARE began preliminary work on the first community solar/storage project in Ohio, also in Minster, and the largest such project in the United States.

“The Minster project sets the stage for a new wave of solar with storage projects that will ultimately become community-owned micro grids,” said David Dwyer, president of American Renewable Energy, who spoke at the GEO conference. “Minster has shown itself to be an national leader and innovator in public power. We are developing projects with six additional municipalities in Ohio, following Minster’s lead.”

“We believe working with an experienced partner made the critical difference,” said Minster Village Administrator Don Harrod. “We truly benefited from the technical and financial expertise of ARE. Together, Minster and ARE sustained the focus and determination necessary to see this industry leading project become a reality. Our partnership produced a solid win for the people of Minster, the investment firm, and ARE. It also cleared a path for other public power members, schools, and rural electric coops to follow suit.”

Dwyer said, “It is no surprise to me while larger cities and utilities remain functionally paralyzed, a more agile, relatively small public utility from Ohio is leading the way. Innovation seems natural in this part of the country where Wilbur and Orville Wright, John Glenn, and Neil Armstrong all have roots.”

The Minster solar-storage system provides needed VAR (volt-ampere reactive) compensation and will consistently support higher grid power quality for local industry. The system is also capable of engaging with the PJM ancillary and capacity markets. For the frequency regulation market, the system responds to signals from PJM. The ESS injects and withdraws power in less than 1.5 seconds (compared to conventional power sources that require a minimum of 3 to 10 minutes), thus stabilizing the PJM system with the fast frequency response. It provides peak following capability, demand management, ramp rate smoothing and is black start/backup capable.

American Renewable Energy of Chicago and Columbus, originates, designs, develops and delivers utility-scale projects. ARE has developed 25 Mw aggregate solar and storage installations in Ohio for public power, school districts and career centers overcoming technical, political, and financial roadblocks along the way. For more information visit www.americanrenewable.com.

Delaware group seeks solar-minded homeowners
Columbus Dispatch – Wednesday, March 30, 2016
by Dan Gearino

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David Carpenter Solar Home in Delaware, Ohio

A big barrier to installing a rooftop solar array is the upfront cost, an issue that a group of clean-energy advocates in Delaware say they can deal with by working together.

Organizers, with ties to a national nonprofit group, will hold a meeting on April 6. They say this is an early step in putting together a slate of homeowners to plan solar arrays together and obtain bulk-buying discounts for installation.

Without discounts, a small rooftop array costs about $10,000, and it usually takes at least a decade to cover the costs with energy savings.

“The No. 1 thing that makes people go solar is if they know someone who has gone solar,” said David Carpenter of Delaware, a volunteer organizer of the group and a retired high school physics teacher.

He has had a rooftop array for about 10 years and is active with organizations that promote renewable energy. His electricity bill is often close to zero because his house generates enough power to offset what he needs from the utility.

The Delaware group is working with Ohio Solar United Neighborhoods, which is affiliated with Community Power Network, a nonprofit company in Washington, D.C.

“The goal really is to work across the state to strengthen solar,” said Ben Delman, spokesman for Community Power Network, which has set up similar projects across the country.

The Ohio group has one other initiative underway, in Lorain County near Cleveland.

Organizers say they intend to bundle together many rooftop projects and then hire the same installation contractor to do all of them in exchange for a bulk discount. Delman said he is aiming for a 20 percent discount.

Here is how that may translate for an individual consumer: A 4-kilowatt solar array, which is typical for a house’s rooftop, would cost $10,500 based on market prices, according to Community Power Network. The bulk discount would would shave 10 to 20 percent off this cost. This does not include federal tax credits, which can cover 30 percent of the cost, and it does not include electricity bill savings.

Community Power Network gets its funding from charitable foundations and from finder’s fees paid by participating solar installers. The fee is about $500 per household, Delman said.

The Ohio projects have caught the interest of Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio, a group that promotes renewable energy. He said the participating groups and their business model are an effective way to help homeowners get rooftop solar.

“I really like what they’re doing,” he said.

Carpenter is thinking more in terms of his city, where he counts seven houses with solar arrays. He thinks the number would be higher if his neighbors knew more about the costs and benefits. How much higher? He doesn’t know.

“We don’t really know whether we’ll get 10 people or 200 at that meeting,” he said.

Ohio Solar United Neighborhoods will hold its meeting on April 6 at 7 p.m. in the Hilborn Room at Mingo Park, 500 E. Lincoln Ave. in Delaware.

Green Energy Ohio talk at Mentor Senior Center covers solar cells and charging electric vehicles

Cleveland Plain Dealer  January 24, 2016
Earlier this year, Motorcars Honda in Cleveland Heights was selected as Green Energy Ohio’s “Business of the Year” for installing a state of the art 335 kW solar canopy system, the largest single covered solar structure of its kind at a dealership in the country.

The solar panels at the dealership reduced the dealership’s carbon footprint by an amount that is the equivalent of the carbon generated by the vehicles the dealership sells in a year, every year moving forward. The panels reduce the dealership’s grid-based energy needs by 50 to 75 percent, depending on the season, while producing 1.3 megawatt hours of electricity per day, or enough to power approximately 40 homes.

Now, Green Energy Ohio is asking consumers to follow the example set by Motorcars Honda.

The organization is hosting a talk on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Mentor Senior Center to help educate consumers on the affordability and practicality of photovoltaic arrays, especially when used to charge electric vehicles. The event is free and open to the public.

“The talk will cover solar power in general,” says Tom Rapini, a Mentor resident who is also a member of Green Energy Ohio, “but we will also discuss the long term payback of photovoltaics, especially when you add in the drop in price of solar panels and if you calculate in the savings from not buying gasoline by charging and driving an electric vehicle.”

Rapini, who is one of the speakers at the event, knows first hand about what it takes to both charge and drive an electric vehicle. An engineer who was educated at the University of Akron and later worked at such prestigious organizations like Allen-Bradley, General Dynamics and Firestone, Rapini not only built his own electric vehicle, he also built the solar array that helps power it.

“First of all, I’d like to stress that it doesn’t take en engineer to build and use a photovoltaic array,” says Rapini, who now runs a small organic farm and a food cooperative in Mentor. “Any one can do it. There are at least five of us in this area who have electric vehicles who are also charging them with a photovoltaic array.”

Rapini’s fascination with electric vehicles began when he worked at a golf course as a teenager.

“I was the one who serviced the electric golf carts,” Rapini recalls. “I have been passionate about green energy all of my life; from bicycling to wind power to solar energy.

“This talk is an educational event to help people realize that this technology is available and that it works in Ohio. Just look at what Motorcars Honda has done. The technology not only works, but it also makes economic sense.”

Rapini’s push toward a futuristic world of zero emission, zero fossil fuel transportation started back in 1991. He sought the smallest vehicle he could find, a Honda 600, and bought it from an owner in Chardon. He converted it to electric only operation, finishing the project in 1993. However, that first vehicle only had a range of about ten miles.

Since then, Rapini has been through three different bodies, repurposing old junkers and transforming them into electric vehicles. He transfers the electric drive unit from one vehicle to the next and improves the technology every step of the way. This past spring, Rapini invested in lithium-ion batteries, improving his current yellow Honda 600’s electric range to a very respectable 70 miles.

Rapini Residence

“I don’t have my high speed charging system wired in yet, but when I get it done it will improve my charge time from discharge to charge in less than three hours,” he adds.

Currently, a typical charge can take as long as 12 hours, which means charging overnight.

With the increased presence of electric vehicles on our local roads, the infrastructure and technology needed to recharge is dropping drastically. New DC fast charging stations could reduce recharging times to as little as 30 minutes or less in the very near future.

If you’d like to learn more about the use of solar energy to reduce your electric bill, or how to use it to charge an electric vehicle for true zero carbon based transportation, visit the Mentor Senior Center next Thursday for Green Energy Ohio’s presentation.

PHOTO: Tom Rapini’s yellow Honda 600 next to his photo voltaic array.

Businesses Urge Sen. Portman, Reps. Renacci, Tiberi to Extend Clean Energy Tax Credits

Akron Beacon Journal – Sponsored by A Renewable America – November 17, 2015

Ohio is well known for its national leadership in technological innovation and cutting-edge manufacturing techniques. In recent years, the state has increasingly become a manufacturing hub for the wind and solar power industries. Since 2003, these industries have invested nearly $4 billion in the state, and the sector currently employs more than 5,000 Ohioans.

To maintain this momentum, Ohio’s renewable power businesses are making the case to Congress that timely extensions of critical federal tax incentives are needed before the end of the year.

The upcoming Congressional debate

redhawksolar1Recently, 62 renewable energy businesses and organizations with a significant presence in Ohio sent a letter to U.S. Senator Rob Portman and Representatives Jim Renacci and Pat Tiberi urging their support for timely extensions of the production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC). Extensions of the PTC and ITC, the two primary federal incentives for renewable power development, are expected to come up for a vote later this fall. [See November 2, 2015 letter signed by Green Energy Ohio and 19 of GEO’s Business Members listed below]
PHOTO: Ground Mount photovoltaic solar system in Franklin County, photo courtesy of RedHawk Energy Systems, LLC.

Despite its great success in helping spur low-cost wind power development, the PTC was allowed to expire at the end of 2014. Similarly, the ITC is set to drop from a 30 percent credit to 10 percent for commercial installations at the end of 2016, with the residential credit will fall to zero – unless Congress acts.

The renewable power sector has historically received far less federal government support than traditional fuels. In fact, according to a DBL Investors study, the oil and gas industries received five times more federal support than renewables during the first 15 years of each set of incentives.

“Lawmakers need to understand that repeated, short-term extensions of the PTC have created uncertainty that has slowed the wind industry’s growth,” said Doug Herr, VP of Sales and Marketing, AeroTorque Corp. “Every business wants long-term policy certainty, and extending the PTC and ITC would greatly help this industry to plan and make investment decisions.”

An economic bright spot

The promise of affordable, reliable, and clean power is here and now. During the past few years, renewable energy has been one of the bright spots in the Ohio’s economy.

Put simply, renewable power is a cash crop in the state, especially for the farmers who earn extra income by generating power from wind turbines on their property. In-state rural landowners currently receive more than $3 million a year in land lease payments, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

“Our customers are putting solar on their roofs because they save money in the long run,” said Matt Ulrich, Marketing Communications Manager, RedHawk Energy Systems, LLC, a Pataskala-based solar installer. “A long-term ITC extension would give us the confidence to expand.”

Renewable power costs continue to drop with wind energy costs declining 66 percent in the last six years, and the cost of solar installations falling 53 percent since 2010. Some Ohio homeowners and businesses say wind energy means big savings for them on electric bills, as the state already has enough wind power capacity to supply more than 100,000 homes per year.

Fostering policy and market certainty

Like any industry, Ohio’s renewable power sector needs stable, predictable tax policies to make long-term investment decisions. Local businesses and other stakeholders argue that policy uncertainty around these incentives jeopardizes industry growth and threatens nearly 5,000 Ohio jobs, including many in the wind-related manufacturing sector.

GEO NOTE: In addition to Green Energy Ohio, 19 of GEO’s Business Members listed in Letter in article above are:
Advanced Distributed Generation http://advanced-dg.com
Dovetail Solar & Wind www.dovetailsolar.com
Ecohouse Solar http://ecohousesolar.com
Ecojiva www.ecojiva.com
Edison Solar, Inc. www.edisonsolar.net
Energy Optimizers USA http://energyoptusa.com
EnergyWize www.energywizenow.com
Koby Electric, Inc. www.kobyelectricinc.com
Mariner Energy Systems www.marinerenergysystems.com
Melink Corporation www.melinkcorp.com
New Morning Energy, LLC
Ohio Solar Electric, LLC www.ohiosolarelectricllc.com
RedHawk Energy Systems, LLC www.redhawkenergy.net
Solar Power & Light www.splsolar.com
SolarVision http://solarvisionllc.net
SunRock Solar www.sunrocksolar.com
Third Sun Solar www.third-sun.com
TMI Energy Solutions www.tmielectric.com
YellowLite www.yellowlite.com

Kenston Schools Part of Annual Green Energy Tour
October 8, 2015 – Geauga Mapleleaf

The district was featured Oct. 3 and 4 as part of the 13th annual statewide Green Energy Ohio Tour. The self-guided tour, which was free and open to the public, featured more than 120 sites with installed green energy technologies, 46 of them in Northeast Ohio.

Kenston is a charter member of the Kilowatts for Education Consortium. In 2012, a single 750 kW wind turbine, a photovoltaic solar array, reference array and tracker and solar thermal array were put in place at the school’s Bainbridge Township campus.

Only 10 percent of Green Energy Ohio Tour sites are schools, said Bill Spratley, executive director for Green Energy Ohio.

“Kenston is unique because it has a wind turbine,” Spratley said. “It’s one of the few in the state. There’s a lot of educational advantage, the fact that kids are growing up seeing this today. The clean energy business is getting bigger worldwide.”

Kenston

The installation at Kenston was made possible by grants obtained under the leadership of former Superintendent Robert Lee. To date, the turbine has generated over 1.9 million kilowatts of power, offsetting the high school electric bill by $209,000.

The green technology has had an impact on not only the district’s budget, but its students, said Katy McGrath, community relations director for the district.

“Our students are much more aware,” McGrath said. “We now have a Renewable Energy science course at the high school and our Envirothon students have also been active in collecting data.”

This is the third year Kenston has been part of the Green Energy Ohio tour. The district will likely apply to be part of it again in 2016, McGrath said.

“It’s important for people to have access to these resources and take a look if they’re interested,” she said.

Those who want to learn more about the equipment at Kenston or check live data can visit www.kw4ed.org/projects/kenston/index.php.

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GREEN ENERGY: Free event promotes energy-efficient ideas
October 3, 2015 – Toledo Blade – Tom Henry

Renewable energy and energy-efficient designs across Ohio will be on display this weekend for the 13th annual Green Energy Ohio Tour.

The event is kind of a parade of homes, but it’s not limited to homes.

The focus is on wind power, solar power, geothermal, LED lighting, foam insulation, low-energy appliances, and advanced roofing shingles.

It will feature just about anything that promotes greater efficiency, conservation, fewer greenhouse gases, and less dependence on the regional electric grid.

Bill Spratley, Ohio’s first Office of Consumers’ Counsel director, has overseen the tour since its inception and also is executive director of the statewide Green Energy Ohio group.

This year’s event has 20 sponsors and features more than 120 tour sites and 178 open houses in 135 communities across 34 counties. Since the tour began, more than 800 sites in 66 counties have been on display.

“There are whole new demographics. We’re seeing a lot of solar on barns,” Mr. Spratley said. “We see a lot of people, baby boomers and older, who are going solar. I think they see it as a legacy to their children and the Earth.”

The tour is divided among the state’s geographic quadrants, with links to tours in each on the group’s website. In northwest Ohio, there are 14 tour sites, including four businesses, one community site, and nine homes. Four of those northwest Ohio tours will be guided.

Tours are free and start at 4 p.m. today in Minster in Auglaize County. The discussion will focus on a large solar array under construction.

Closer to the Toledo area, there will be a guided tour at The Butterfly House with stops at the Anderson residence and Lial School. Each will showcase solar panels.

From 1 to 4 p.m. today, there will be guided tours of Deer Valley Development in Monclova Township.

On Sunday, from 1 to 4 p.m., guided tours will be available of the 55-turbine the Timber Road II Wind Farm in Paulding County.

Next year expect to see tours showing advancements in battery technology, Mr. Spratley said.

Energy experts have said that greater storage through improved battery technology is the next big thing for renewable energy.

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Green Energy Tour starts today
October 2, 2015 – The Columbus Dispatch – Jim Weiker

Those interested in green energy can visit more than two dozen central Ohio examples this weekend during the 13 th annual Green Energy Ohio tour.

The free tour features 170 open houses across the state, including, in central Ohio, 23 homes, four community sites and four businesses.

The sites showcase solar- and wind-powered generators, geothermal systems and other energy-saving technologies.

The tour “is a great opportunity for Ohioans to learn first-hand about the latest in solar, wind, biomass and energy efficiency,” said Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio.

American Renewable Energy & Power is the tour’s premier sponsor.

Sites will be open different hours today, Saturday and Sunday.

For a list of sites and hours, visit www.greenenergyohio.org/ost.

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AKRON ZOO LEADING GREATER AKRON GREEN ENERGY OHIO TOUR OCT. 3
Four of the greenest organizations in Akron will be showcased on tour
October 2, 2015 – Hudson Hub Times

Akron Zoo Solar Train
Akron, OH – The Akron Zoo, Old Trail School, Bridgestone Americas and Hattie’s Gardens at the Akron Zoo will showcase their green efforts during the 13th annual Green Energy Ohio Tour on Saturday, Oc. 3 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Participation is free, but space is limited and registration is required.

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Energy tour highlights efficient homes, businesses
October 1, 2015 – Medina-Gazette

ELIZABETH DOBBINS / THE GAZETTE Homeowner Jeff Melvin stands under the solar panels on the roof of his house. His house will be one of the stops on the Medina County Green Energy Ohio Tour.

ELIZABETH DOBBINS / THE GAZETTE Homeowner Jeff Melvin stands under the solar panels on the roof of his house. His house will be one of the stops on the Medina County Green Energy Ohio Tour.

Homeowner Jeff Melvin stands under the solar panels on the roof of his house. His house will be one of the stops on the Medina County Green Energy Ohio Tour.

“That’s about as many as my roof line can hold,” he said.

The Nissan Leaf all-electric car owner, who tinkers with battery-charged cell phone chargers in his garage, said the installation has cut his winter utility bill by 20 percent and his summer bill to “virtually” nothing.

Now, for the first time, his house is making an appearance on the free Medina County Green Energy Ohio, or GEO, Tour, starting at 9 a.m. Saturday at another partially solar powered business, Wolff Bros. Supplies, 6078 Wolff Road, Medina. Sohar’s house will join 178 other locations across Ohio during the American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Tour.

“Ohio has more sites (on the tour) than any other entity,” GEO executive director Bill Spratley said.
He added most of the sites are in Northeast Ohio, including six sites on Medina County’s tour and another six sites on Oberlin’s tour. The sites also are open to self-guided visits during varying hours with a listing online at www.greenenergyohio.org/ost today, Saturday and Sunday.

Kevin Wisor, owner of the Brunswick company SolarMax, will lead the Medina County tour to five new sites this year, after last year’s tour drew low attendance because of rainy weather.

An electrician by trade, Wisor said he became interested in solar power during the 1980s when he attended seminars on the renewable energy. In 2009, he installed solar panels on both his and his father’s roof.

“Then I started the business,” he said. Over the past six years, he’s installed panels on 11 or more sites in Medina County and more than 60 houses in Northeast Ohio.

He said he assesses houses based on copies of past utility bills and installs a number of panels depending on the homeowner’s budget. Some houses are 99.6 percent covered with only $18 yearly utility bills, though the majority of his clients pay about $100 a year in utilities after installation, he said.

In addition to the houses and Wolff Bros. Supply, the Medina County tour will visit Plum Creek Senior Assisted Living Community in Brunswick — a complex with enough solar panels to generate 74.25 kilowatt hours of power.

The Oberlin tour Saturday also will visit non-residential sites, including the Oberlin Fire Station that received LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council after it was renovated in 2011. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Two Oberlin College sites — the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, a sustainable academic building that recycles waste water within the building, and a 2.27 megawatt solar array opened in 2012 — will be on the tour as well.

Spratley said the cost of solar panels has dropped in the past several years, causing the installation rate to rise from one every four minutes, as President Barack Obama cited in his State of the Union address last year, to one every about 2.5 minutes. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the price of installation has dropped 73 percent since 2006 and 195,000 installations were completed in 2014, bringing the total to 645,000 homes and businesses in the U.S.

“It’s as affordable as it’s ever been,” said Spratley, who is based in Columbus.

Wisor said an installation similar to the one on his father’s house cost $30,000 in 2009, but about $15,000 today.

Right now, Federal Incentive-Renewable Energy Tax Credits cut the full price of solar panels by 30 percent.

“The reality is what’s driving our industry at this point is the 30 percent tax credit,” Spratley said.

At the end of 2016, the tax credit will expire. Wisor believes interest in solar, which is already a hard sell because of the high equipment and installation prices, will plummet.

“It will be a tremendous effect when it comes to 2017,” he said.

Until then, Spratley said he expects the end of the tax credit will mean more people will get solar installations in 2016. Jeff Melvin, Sohar’s neighbor and another stop on the tour, is among that number. Next year, he plans to add more solar panels to the 32 already on the roof of his geothermally heated house.“We figured it would lower our energy costs,” he said. “I’m thrilled having it.”

Spratley said GEO also has invited local officials, including state legislators, to join the tour to learn about green energy savings. Though Ohio often has overcast skies, he said the country of Germany, which is about 12 degrees latitude further north, is the current leader in solar energy.

“We need a public policy that ensures Ohio will be a green energy leader,” he said.

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Solar tour to show clean energy businesses, homes east of Cleveland
September 26 – Willoughby News-Herald

Eight businesses and homes east of Cleveland saving money and offsetting environmental impact by using solar and wind energy will be featured in an upcoming guided bus tour.

The 2015 East of Cleveland Green Energy Ohio Tour will be from 8:30 a.m. to approximately 4:15 p.m. Oct. 3.

The free tour departs from the Lake Metroparks Farmpark. The normal entrance fee to Lake Metroparks Farmpark will be waived for those who mention you are there for the Green Energy Ohio Tour.

The day begins with a tour of the Farmpark’s wind and solar systems before heading to the Rapini residence in Mentor.

“This year’s bus tour is placing more emphasis on business sites that have embraced solar or wind power,” Tom Rapini said in an email. “We are driving home the connections between local installations, local jobs, local industries and local environment.”

From there, the tour heads to stops in Cuyahoga and Geauga counties. Stops include Motorcars Honda in Cleveland Heights, which recently installed a canopy showroom with 335,000 watts of solar panels on top and First Unitarian Church in Shaker Heights which has a 92,000 watt parking canopy.

The other stops are Tesla Motors in Mayfield Heights, the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland, Kenston Schools, The Pond Ice Rink, and the Smith residence in Solon.
A free lunch will also be provided, compliments of Bulldog Battery in Willoughby.

Reservations are required. Those interested are asked to call Valerie Garrett at 440-231-0842 to reserve a seat.

Green Energy Ohio is a statewide, nonprofit, renewable energy advocacy group hosting its 13th annual tour, part of the American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Tour.

There are 14 guided Green Energy Ohio tours Oct. 2-4 across Ohio.

People can also go to www.greenenergyohio.org and build a personal tour of sites where they can find out about the performance, costs, and options for going solar themselves, Rapini said.

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OBERLIN TOUR on Green Energy Ohio Tour
September 26, 2015 – The Oberlin Project

This is a FREE guided tour kicks off at 9 am at the Oberlin Fire Department, 430 S. Main Street. The Oberlin Green Energy Ohio guided tour showcases innovative uses of solar, energy efficiency, and other green energy technologies.A FREE guided tour kicks off at 9 am at the Oberlin Fire Department, 430 S. Main Street. The Oberlin Green Energy Ohio guided tour showcases innovative uses of solar, energy efficiency, and other green energy technologies.
Tour Schedule is as follows:

9 am. – Oberlin Fire Department, 430 S. Main Street
10 am – Adam Joseph Lewis Center, 122 Elm Street
11 am – Oberlin College Solar Array, Deadend of N. Prospect Street
Noon – 1:30 pm LUNCH ON YOUR OWN – Visits will be given the Oberlin Business Partner’s guide for food locations. We also encourage you to stop by the Oberlin Farmer’s Marketat 69 S. Main Street. Along with our newly opened business incubator program SEED Ventures at 29 S. Main Street.
1:30 pm – Trail Magic, 495 E. College Street (this home will be available to tour all day between 10 am and 4 pm. This is a scheduled top during this Oberlin tour.)
2:30 pm – Mavrich Passive Solar Home – 625 Spruce Street
3:30 pm – Mitchell High-Performance Home, 121 Smith Street. This is also a Ribbon Cutting Open House celebration!

Your tour guides will be Emily Stanford, Energy Efficiency Fellow and Greg Jones, Energy Advocate for POWER. If you have any questions, please contact Greg Jones at 440-935-0995.

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Green Energy Ohio Tour
September 25, 2015 The Athens News

Green Energy Ohio will showcase clean energy and green design in a local area tour. This 13th statewide GEO tour event features more than 120 tour sites, holding 178 open houses, with installed solar, wind, energy efficiency and other green energy technologies. The GEO Tour has 20 sponsors in 135 communities across 34 Ohio counties. The tour is free to the public during designated times, which are posted on the GEO web site: www.greenenergyohio.org/ost.

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Green Energy Ohio tours start Oct. 2, feature 46 area tour sites
September 24, 2015 Cleveland Plain Dealer 

CLEVELAND, Ohio ­­ Green Energy Ohio, the non­profit renewable energy advocate, will showcase clean energy and green design in local area tours on Oct. 2 through Oct. 4.

This 13th statewide GEO event features more than 120 tour sites holding 178 open houses with installed solar, wind, energy efficiency and
other green energy technologies. The GEO tour has 20 sponsors in 135 communities across 34 Ohio counties.

The 46 Northeast Ohio tour sites include 22 private homes, eight businesses, seven schools and nine community places. The tour is free to
the public during designated times, which are posted on the GEO website: www.greenenergyohio.org.ost
[http://www.greenenergyohio.org.ost] .

Visitors can choose from local sites and create a tour that is designed and convenient for them. Five guided tours to multiple sites are also
offered Oct. 4 in Akron, Canton, East of Cleveland, Medina and Oberlin.

“The free GEO Tour is a great opportunity for Ohioans to learn first­hand about the latest in solar, wind, biomass and energy efficiency,”
said GEO Executive Director Bill Spratley. “Many previous tour­goers have adopted sustainable energy for their home, business and
community and now provide their own green energy for a cleaner environment and new jobs.”

The 2015 Green Energy Ohio Tour is sponsored by American Renewable Energy & Power, Design Energy, Ecohouse Solar, Dayton Power &
Light, Ohio Solar Electric, Third Sun Solar, SolarMax, SunLit Solar, YellowLife, Dovetail Solar & Wind, Decker Homes, Everpower,
Advanced Distributed Generation, SolarVision, KeyBank, Turner Foundation, Akron Zoo, Motorcars Honda, A Renewable America.

For more information go to www.greenenergyohio.org.ost [http://www.greenenergyohio.org.ost] .

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Locals hopeful about renewable energy future for Alliance
September 16, 2015 – Alliance Review – Chelsea Shar 

Green Alliance and the Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce coordinated a Community Solar Forum Tuesday evening to educate the public on the prospects of solar and wind energy in the Alliance area.

The event was hosted at Courtney’s Banquet Center, which is run partially by solar power. Greg Courtney, owner of the facility, also owns a wind turbine and renewable energy installation company called Wind Turbines of Ohio.

Tiffany Gravlee, a committee member of Green Alliance, a nonprofit organization that seeks to develop an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable community, was one of the organizers of the event.

She said researching how to implement solar and wind energy in Alliance can be frustrating and confusing.

“I thought people could benefit from bringing in experts. We don’t really have legislation in place to make it easily done, but it can be done through co­ops, nonprofits or other routes. There are alternative ways,” she said.

Review Photo/Kevin Graff Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio, speaks about solar power at a Community Solar Forum at Courtney Banquet Center on Tuesday.

Review Photo/Kevin Graff Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio, speaks about solar power at a Community Solar Forum at Courtney Banquet Center on Tuesday.

Speakers included Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio; U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan; Randy Monhemius, USDA; and Courtney.

Spratley spoke about the growing trend and technology that is solar energy.

“Energy is about all types of technology; it’s one of the fasted growing industries in the world,” he said.

Through the end of 2016 there is a federal tax credit for individuals and businesses that install renewable energy sources, which is helping Ohioans to expand their use of solar panels, but he said there is need and room for more.

With zoning regulations and little cooperation from utility companies, options for solar power are limited for Alliance residents, but Spartley said community solar power is very possible.

“Local leadership makes a difference. Our state is advocating for it, yet when it comes to putting it out there, like wind farms, we are stuck in the mud. And with solar energy we would be much farther ahead if utilities had to buy renewable energy from Ohio-­based renewable sites,” he said.

Ryan spoke about the importance of passionate people getting involved to vote legislators into office who will help push forward renewable energy efforts.

“For real change you need to have public policy pushing issues through legislation and the democratic process, whether it’s through the state of Ohio, or Alliance, or the United States Congress. … Right now the system is controlled primarily by the fossil fuel industry,” he said.

He said after World War II the government invested in manufacturing, which ramped up jobs in the U.S. In the 1960s the U.S. government made investments into going to the moon. Now the government needs to make those investments in renewable energy at the local level.

He echoed some numbers reported by Spartley in his speech, that there are $3 million in wind farm investments in Ohio that have stalled due to public policy and that “ironically Ohio is the number one manufacturer of parts for wind turbines.”

“All of the things that go into this industry we make. This is northeast Ohio, this is what we do. There’s not a better possibility for us than to expand and grow this industry,” he said.

Ryan also suggested some public policies that will move Ohio forward with it’s dependence on renewable energy, such as power companies being mandated to produce 20 percent of their energy through renewables.

“We have to think about doing things differently, and you are the perfect group to do it,” he told the audience.

Prior to the event a renewable energy expo was held where sponsors and businesses could show their renewable energy products, technologies and options.

Chuck McClaugherty, director of the Brumbaugh Center for Environmental Science, was at the expo showing how the University of Mount Union has reduced its energy consumption in recent years.

A group of about 20 university students attended the forum as well.

Megan Elliot, pastor at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, attended the forum to get an idea of how she could be a part of helping her church leave less of a carbon footprint.

“I want to get an idea of what’s out there. I know other pastors who have walked their churches through going solar power,” she said.

For more on local efforts to move Alliance toward renewable energy sources, go to www.greenallianceohio.org.

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Solar Tour This Year- Your Home Next Year
September 14, 2015 – Mentor Monitor

The price of installing clean renewable solar energy at your home or business has never been more affordable. And to prove that, this year’s Green Energy Ohio Tour, part of the National Solar Tour, will be hosted by over two dozen homes, parks, and businesses in the Lake/Geauga/Cuyahoga area. These sites will open their doors on October 2nd, 3rd, and 4th to provide you a FREE tour showcasing various renewable energy applications including solar water heating, solar electric, wind power, electric cars, living roofs, and energy efficient construction.

Price drops and tax incentives over the past three years have made the economics of solar so attractive, many companies and homeowners are realizing it is foolish NOT to invest in the sun! This year’s tour will also bring to “light” the new jobs created for material suppliers, fabricators, designers, engineers, installers, and more.

Go to www.greenenergyohio.org to build your own FREE personal driving tour. Or reduce your carbon footprint by taking the FREE guided bus tour, courtesy of Lake Metroparks FarmPark on Saturday, October 3rd. the guided bus tour includes a FREE lunch. Call Valerie at 440-231-0842 for a bus reservation.

September 1, 2015 – GEO News Release (download as .pdf)

Calling for Solar, Wind & Green Technology Sites for the GEO Tour
13th Green Energy Ohio Tour Set For October 2, 3 & 4 Across Ohio

2015 collage 3

Do you live in a solar home or does your home, farm, business or workplace use other green technologies like wind power or energy efficiency?  If so, then join in the annual, statewide showcase, the GEO Tour.  

Green Energy Ohio (GEO), the non-profit renewable energy advocate, will showcase clean energy and green design at local open houses and guided tours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 2, 3 & 4. Tour sites include private homes, businesses and public locations such as schools, parks, zoos and other locations – all organized by over 100 volunteers.

The Tour is FREE to the public during designated times which are posted at the GEO web site: www.greenenergyohio.org/ost now being organized. Visitors can choose from local sites and create a tour that is convenient to their personal schedules.

Guided tours are also now being organized in Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Columbus, Oberlin, Springfield and Urbana. Over 175 open houses at 110 Tour sites participated in 31 counties featuring 10 green technologies on last year’s GEO Tour.  In fact, Green Energy Ohio has featured over 800 tour sites across 66 of Ohio’s 88 counties the past 13 years with more new sites coming in 2015.

“The free GEO Tour is a great opportunity for Ohioans to learn first-hand about the latest in solar, wind, biomass and energy efficiency,” Bill Spratley, GEO Executive Director, said. “As federal incentives will be reduced at the end of 2016 and solar prices are a record lows, now is the time to start acting to install solar as well as other cost-saving green technologies.”

“GEO is asking site owners to invite elected officials, especially state legislators, to visit their sites to gain a better understanding of the green energy savings and environmental benefits,“ Spratley added, “We need a public policy that insures Ohio will be a green energy leader.”

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Screenshot - 8_10_2015 , 4_19_18 PM
Boldly Going SOLAR where no one has before…Cleveland!
by N7 Productions

See and Hear GEO’s Bill Spratley and other experts in Highlights Video of Green Energy Ohio’s July 23,2015 Northeast Ohio Solar Conference under the new 30-ton solar canopy at Honda Motorcars in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
See YouTube Video.

raphaels-beauty-school-solar-1170x741

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For efficiency advocates, Ohio loan program remains bright spot
Midwest Energy News – Connie Lewis

July 31, 2015

With the help of an Ohio energy program, a Youngstown-area cosmetology school has launched an effort that will substantially reduce electricity usage and save money. But the company’s owner doesn’t intend to stop there.

Ralph Delserone III, owner and CEO of Raphael’s School of Beauty Culture Inc., has installed 365 solar panels with a total capacity of 85 kilowatts atop a 17,000-square-foot building at its campus in Boardman. He also added new automated lighting controls, four skylights and swapped out the building’s four existing water heaters for high-efficiency heat pump units.

The business borrowed $240,000 from Ohio’s Energy Loan Fund at 3 percent interest. Including funds of his own, Delserone invested a total of $340,000, and anticipates a payback within 15 years. He also took advantage of the 30 percent federal tax credit available for installing solar systems on commercial properties. Construction on the project began in January 2014 and was completed in February.

“I believe we will cut our energy costs by 80 percent,” he said. The upgrades are expected to save up to $20,000 a year. The company plans to soon install solar arrays at its four other campuses, all of which are in northeastern Ohio.

“I’m interested in green energy, and the ability to offset energy costs with free sunshine,” he said. “Being able to borrow money at a low interest rate and get a tax credit was attractive. Our students are keen on protecting the environment, so we thought this was a good complement to our educational programs.”

The agency recently announced a new round of funding totaling $11.25 million. The loan program was launched in 2012 with $7 million in state funding through the Advanced Energy Fund, as well as federal funds from the State Energy Program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Since then it has made $40 million in loans, said Penny Martin, the agency’s public information officer.

The current program has its roots in the Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Program, which was established in 1999 by state Senate Bill 3, and was funded by a rider, or fee on electric utility bills until Dec. 30, 2010. The rider was not to exceed $100,000 over the 10 year period.

The goal of the fund, which targets small businesses, manufacturers, nonprofit organizations and public entities, including school districts with revolving loans, is “to improve energy efficiency by reducing the amount used and thereby reducing costs,” Martin said. Job creation and retention are also part of the objective.

“The hope is small businesses will reinvest in their companies, and when schools districts improve energy efficiency, that saves the taxpayer money in the long term,” Martin said. “A cornerstone of the program is that applicants demonstrate to us how they will save 15 percent of their energy usage as a result of the measures they complete.”

This is achieved by providing an American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) energy audit, certified by an engineer or architect licensed by the state. Through the life of the loan, borrowers will be required to file annual reports. However, quarterly reports, including the amount of energy saved, are required for the first year after the efficiency measures are completed.

“Our agency is committed to accountability,” Martin said. “We’re using taxpayer dollars, so there are reporting requirements.”

Individual loan amounts range from $250,000 to a maximum of $1.25 million. Prospective applicants are required to submit letters of intent no later than Aug. 12. The deadline for formal applications is Sept. 30, and applicants are required to attend a bidder’s conference, scheduled for Aug. 26 in Columbus.

The agency has marketed the new lending round by contacting parties who expressed interest after last year’s funds were committed. It has also sent information to organizations such as the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association and the National Federation of Independent Business.

Determinations on how much money the agency will have available for loans from year to year depend on state budgeting allocations and the amount that comes back to it in repayments.

“We want the pot of money to be sustainable,” Martin said. “We want to make sure we have resources available to help our clients.” But the agency’s task doesn’t stop at making loans, she pointed out. Staff members also offer pointers and advice, free of charge, on ways businesses and nonprofits can conserve energy.

“If they don’t know how to go about doing an energy efficiency program, we want them to call us,” she added. “We have the ability to identify ways they can improve and perform an energy audit. We want to help. Our focus is customer service.”

Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio, said he welcomes the loan fund particularly during a period when state Senate Bill 310, which temporarily curbed the state’s renewable energy standard, has cast a pall of uncertainty on the industry itself.

“We welcome any state incentives because we haven’t seen much at the state level lately,” he said.

The bill took effect in the spring of 2014 and placed a two-year freeze on the standards, which were set in 2008, stipulating that 25 percent of electricity sold by in-state utilities was to come from alternative sources, with half of that fraction generated from renewables. Under the freeze, the renewable energy mandate stands at just 2.5 percent. A legislative committee is reviewing the standards.

Ned Ford, energy consultant to the Sierra Club’s Ohio chapter, agrees with Spratley that the loan fund is advantageous, but that it’s overshadowed by SB 310.

“I’d say it’s probably on the order of 1 percent to the good compared to the damage SB 310 has done,” Ford said. “But it’s difficult to quantify. If you believe the freeze is only for two years, that’s one thing. If you believe it’ll last, that’s another thing.”

Martin emphasized that SB 310 is separate from the Energy Loan Fund and did not influence it.

“It had no effect whatsoever on the program,” she said.

Connie Lewis is an Ohio-based freelance writer who has an extensive background covering business beats at various newspapers across the country. She may be reached at: conniemarylewis1964@gmail.com

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Large or small, solar arrays on rise

Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune – Vicki Johnson
July 17, 2015
Declining costs and homeowners thinking of solar installations as an investment option are spurring the growth of solar power in Ohio.

In the past eight years, Ohio has grown by leaps and bounds, said Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio.

“We’ve been doing this for 15 years and it just gets better every day from our standpoint,” he said. “The more that’s installed, the more accepted it becomes.”

Article Photos

Wyandotte Solar 2
This aerial photo of the 80-acre, 159,000-panel, 12 megawatt Wyandot Solar Farm is from Public Service Enterprise Group Inc.

The more solar power is accepted, and the more prices decrease, the more likely it is homeowners will check into installing solar systems into their own homes.

“That’s what it takes,” he said. “We see it all the time on our tours.”

Spratley said installing solar panels used to be known as an expensive idea, but that has changed as technology has improved.

“It’s a growing thing,” he said. “We actually brought the national solar conference to Cleveland eight years ago and we could not find 1 megawatt of solar.”

Today, he said, Ohio produces 120 MW.

Now, Spratley said, farms and rural areas are seeing a big increase in solar installations because of loans and grants that were available through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency.

“Farms right now are one of the hottest areas to see solar power going in,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of solar being installed on barns.”

Overall, solar power installations are becoming popular because of declining product and installation prices, Spratley said.

Large corporations such as Wal-Mart and General Motors are seeing economic benefits, he said. And Amazon is constructing a new solar facility in central Ohio.

“It’s giving them a competitive edge,” he said.

Now, Spratley said, the largest 121 solar arrays produce 83 percent of the electricity generated, while the remaining 1,441 produce 20 percent.

“Most of the solar is much smaller, but it all adds up,” he said. “They’re clearly going forward with more solar. All kinds of different businesses, a whole variety of have done these solar arrays.”

He said municipalities also are seeing the benefits of solar power.

Carey is one of them. The town’s 2-megawatt array started operating March 1.

Despite more than 1,500 solar installations, Spratley said Ohio isn’t in the top 20 states for production.

“We still feel we’re hampered,” he said. “Part of the problem is the perception. Ohio is viewed as not being friendly because of legislation.

“We’re trying to get the legislature to put the renewable standard back in place,” he said. “We have such an economic tie to this.”

One of those smaller arrays that has been in use since 2011 is in Seneca County at the Franciscan Earth Literacy Center.

FELC has taken a leadership role in educating people about solar energy and its use for providing homes with electricity.

“The No. 1 thing was to have the solar array and the wind turbine as a showcase, but also for the solar to meet the needs of the Earth Literacy Center, so it’s doing that,” said FELC Director Jacob Clolinger.

He said the solar array and the wind turbine provide all of the electrical needs of the straw bale house and the FELC building.

“Most of our energy comes from the solar,” he said.

To expand its educational mission, FELC began to host third-grade field trips in fall 2013 to teach children about renewable energy, which is part of the state curriculum. Field trips are available spring and fall.

“They play with model wind turbines and model solar panels,” he said. “Our goal is to get all of the third-graders in Seneca County.”

“One of the things we tell kids all the time is solar energy is a much more efficient way to get energy to your house,” he said. “It goes directly from the sun, which moves the electrons, and goes straight to your house.”

And that’s a lesson, not only for children, but for adults.

Clolinger said the solar installation is available to anyone who would like to investigate solar power for their homes.

The 16 kw system means it could produce 16 kilowatts at peak capacity.

“That would be quite a bit for a house to be using at any one time,” he said.

“It’s tied into the electric system, so anything we’re not using will be fed back into the grid for use by the Tiffin community.”

Because the array generates more electricity in summer than in winter, he said FELC received credits on its electric bill.

“We build up credits in the summer which helps to take care of the winter,” he said. “We do have sunny days in winter, but for the most part it’s nowhere near what we get in the summer.”

Clolinger said Dan Klear of Superior Energy Solutions in Ottawa installed the array for FELC and has been a valuable resource for information.

“There’s some people that like to be known as ‘green.’ but that’s a relatively small group actually,” Klear said. “As an investment, it’s a good thing to do.”

One misconception is that Ohio doesn’t have enough sunlight resources.

“Ohio has actually better solar resources than Germany, and Germany is, or at one time was, the leader in solar in the world,” Klear said.

“For the average homeowner, it really comes down to dollars and cents,” he said.

In most cases, Klear said, solar power provides a 10-year return on investment, which means systems pay for themselves within 10 years.

“That’s 7-percent interest on your money,” he said.

“That’s pretty typical for residential,” he said.

The first part of the process is to determine how much electricity is used in a year.

“From there, we can design a system to produce 80 percent of that,” Klear said. “Then, we discuss the options and move forward with it.”

A home system is designed to make enough electricity for one home.

“On a daily basis, they will overproduce on a lot of days,” he said. “That is returned to them in terms of credit.”

The way credits operate depends on individual electric companies, he said.

“But that contributes to the 10-year return on investment,” he said. “You get credits during the day that you use at night.”

He said homeowners also get credits during the summer they can use during the winter.

In essence, installing solar arrays reduces, or in some cases, eliminates electric bills.

He recommended people look into the options.
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Region home to largest arrays in state

Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune
July 17, 2015 – Vicki Johnson
Northwest Ohio is home to some of the largest solar arrays in the state, including the largest one and two smaller but significant ones in Wyandot County.

In addition to Wyandot Solar Farm in Salem Township, which can produce 12 megawatts of electricity, Wyandot County has arrays owned by the village of Carey and Vaughn Industries.

About 75 miles northwest of Wyandot Solar are two more large arrays in Napoleon. One helps to power the Campbell’s Soup plant and one is owned by American Electric Power-Ohio and benefits members of the cooperative.

Two more of Ohio’s largest solar operations are in Wapakoneta and Celina.

According to a study completed by Green Energy Ohio, these and other large solar arrays that produce more than 100 megawatts of electricity provide 83 percent of the total production at grid-tied installations.

Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio, said one of the study’s key findings showed 32 solar arrays of 100 kilowatts or more using photovoltaic devices – also known as PV devices which generate electricity directly from sunlight – are in northwest Ohio. The PV systems generate 56.17 megawatts of electricity.

Fact Box________________________________________________

For more information: Green Energy Ohio: www.greenenergyohio.org for conference registration or general information

GEO News Magazine: www.readoz.com/publication?i=1065904 for more information in the March edition and a detailed list of the 25 largest solar arrays, photos and Ohio map locations

Franciscan Earth Literacy Center: (419) 448-7485, felctiffin.org

Superior Energy Solutions, Ottawa: (419) 890-8067, www.senergys.com

USDA Rural Energy for America Program: www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency
____________________________________________________________

Following northwest Ohio are southwest Ohio, with 41 arrays generating 19.92 MW; northeast Ohio, with 29 arrays making 14.32 MW; central Ohio, with 15 arrays making 9.58 MW; and southeast Ohio, with four arrays generating 0.63 MW.

Statewide, the top 121 systems represent 100.62 MW of the total 120.73 MW produced, which is more than 83 percent. In total, 1,562 sites have solar PV systems installed. These sites include ground-mount, rooftop and canopy applications at airports, factories, municipal and investor-owned utilities, commercial buildings, zoos, schools, universities and other locations.

Other arrays of more than 100 MW in the area include First Solar Perrysburg Array and PNA Solar in Wood County; Bucyrus in Crawford County; Findlay Water Pollution Control Center in Hancock County; Woodville in Sandusky County; and 13 more in Lucas County.

Statewide, solar arrays of more than 100 MW can be found in 47 of Ohio’s 88 counties, the study found.

The statistics were released last Thursday by Green Energy Ohio in preparation for its Northeast Ohio Solar Conference to take place next Thursday at Honda Motorcars in Cleveland Heights. The one-day conference is to focus on how commercial-size solar arrays are working to save money and how to assess, finance and build large solar projects for businesses and public places. The emerging topic of local community approaches to using solar power also are to be discussed.
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Motocars Honda Solar Canopy - PD article

Solar power in Ohio growing faster than it can be measured, conference here July 23

Cleveland Plain Dealer – John Funk

July 15, 2015 – CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Ohio lawmakers have “frozen” state renewable energy standards until 2017, but somebody forgot to tell businesses to stop building on-site solar.

There are nearly 1,600 privately owned solar arrays in Ohio with a total generating capacity of more than 120 megawatts. That’s the latest count by Green Energy Ohio, a statewide renewable energy advocacy group, using data from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Eight years ago, Green Energy Ohio hosted a national solar conference in Cleveland and was hard pressed to find any solar here.

“We could not even find even one megawatt in the entire state,” said William Spratley, GEO executive director. Most arrays were small residential systems with the capacity to generate 3,000 to 4,000 watts, described at 3 to 4 kilowatts in the industry.

But that has changed dramatically.

Businesses — from Walmart to General Motors — are  building solar. These are big solar arrays, measured in thousands of watts, and occasionally in millions of watts, or megawatts.

Businesses are taking advantage of a 30 percent tax credit, good through Dec. 31, 2016, and they are financing the projects with low-cost loans or lease arrangements.

Sure, it’s about “saving” the environment, but it’s also about the bottom line. Solar power right now makes financial sense, because of the tax credit, creative financing, improvements in efficiency and rapidly falling prices.

Cloudy Northeast Ohio is no exception to the phenomenal growth, said Spratley.

There are now 30 large solar arrays in the region with a total generating capacity of nearly 13 megawatts, GEO’s analysis of state records shows.

The phenomenal growth has continued despite the Ohio’s two-year “freeze” on state-mandates requiring utilities to sell annually increasing amounts of green power.

These privately owned power plants are tied to FirstEnergy or American Electric Power’s local distribution grid, lowering demand for utility-generated power every day, and at times generating more electricity than they need, sending the excess to the grid.

Northeast Ohio’s 30th large commercial solar array went on line recently at Motorcars Honda, in Cleveland Heights. It can generate up to 335,000 watts, or 335 kilowatts.

Chuck Gile, Motorcars president, said the large array of more than 1,200 panels held in two barrel-shaped canopies high over the dealership’s outdoor lot generates 65 percent to 70 percent of the power used by the business.

Built at a cost of about $1.7 million, the enormous array is part of a $6 million renovation that will include another solar array covering a second parking lot and  similar set of solar canopies that will be built across Mayfield Road at Motorcars Toyota.

The project also includes a new facility for routine maintenance such as oil changes and tire rotations. The new service center will function like a production line and is designed to allow customers to watch as their vehicle is moved down the line.

Gile said investing in solar just makes good business sense, given the tax credits and financing available.

“Yes, we are helping saving the polar bears,” he said. “We owe it to our customers to help save the environment.”

That kind of attitude caught Spratley’s attention at Green Energy Ohio. Motorcars Honda has agreed to host GEO’s Northeast Ohio’s solar conference July 23. The conference is open to the public, but there is a registration fee that includes lunch, valet parking and a tour of the dealership’s array.

Presentations explaining low-cost solar financing and an overview of the solar industry’s accelerating growth are the main topics.

For more information and to register on-line, go to greenenergyoh.org and click on “upcoming events.” Or click here.

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Motocars Honda Solar Canopy - PD article2Motorcars dealerships steer toward solar energy, sustainable future (photos)

Cleveland Plain Dealer – John Funk

July 15, 2015 – CLEVELAND HEIGHTS — Chuck Gile, president of Motorcars Cleveland, has steered his companies, Motorcars Honda and Motorcars Toyota, in to the fast lane toward sustainability.

Two huge, but oddly elegant, canopies fly over what was an ordinary car dealership parking lot filled with new vehicles. The canopies, designed by Michael Stevens of Dovetail Solar and Wind, were hand crafted of steel rolled from 60 recycled cars.

The canopies carry 1,240 solar panels, each generating up to 270 watts, turning the parking lot into a kind of brightly lit outdoor/indoor showroom free of rain and snow while functioning silently as a power plant.

Both the solar panels and the electronic equipment controlling their output are American made.

The solar array was generating about 70 percent of the dealership’s electrical needs on a recent afternoon while Gile escorted his visitors on a tour he admitted he loves doing.

“I show this off as much as I do my grandchildren,” he chuckled when it had become apparent he was enjoying himself while guiding his visitors across the 24,000 square-foot parking lot, now unexpectedly cool despite the hot sun.

Standing under the canopies, Gile pointed to the 90 evenly spaced flat 32-watt LED lighting fixtures that now replace the old 400-watt metal halide bulbs.

The LEDs are designed to evenly illuminate every vehicle on display while saving money. And “burning” for years. Even the gutters are high-tech, electrically heated to carry melted snow trickling from the panels into a sewer line in a full basement below the parking lot.

The array is the largest single covered solar structure at any auto dealership in the nation, said Gile.

And it is tied into the Illuminating Co.’s distribution grid, lessening the demand for utility-generated electricity and at times, feeding power back to the utility.

The cost of the array is about $1.7 million and part of a $6-million renovation project involving Motorcars Honda and Motorcars Toyota directly across Mayfield Road.

With LED lighting and heating and air conditioning retrofits, the company hopes to qualify for LEED Gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The plan is to build similar solar canopies at the Toyota dealership by the end of 2016.

And why not?

Going green is now as much a business decision as an environmental one.

The price of solar technology has plummeted over the last decade. There is a federal tax credit equal to 30 percent of the cost of the project, and a 10-year ultra-low interest rate from Key Bank convinced Gile he will save money in the long run.

In fact, he said it is already saving money, and that the company will be “cash positive” by the end of the 10-year loan.

“One of my employees has been after me to do this for years,” Gile said. “It makes sense, especially with the tax credit. And it’s the right thing for a business to do.”

That long-time employee is Andrew Chiarelli, or “Mr. Green Car” around the dealership.

Chiarelli noted that the winter nightmare of constantly cleaning snow from new vehicles, and then moving them around the lot for snow plowing is now in the past.

Both men pointed to a new special-purpose building at the rear of the Honda dealership as another example of how the company is embracing technology to solve environmental problems.

The long building now nearing completion is a kind of production line where technicians will do routine maintenance such as oil changes and tire rotation while customers watch.

Gile prefers to think of it as the “car wash” model, allowing customers to see everything being done to their vehicle, and being done quickly. The floor of the new building, as well as the driveways leading to and from it, are heated with a network of hot water from compact gas-fired boilers.

Salt will never be necessary, said Gile.

Still under consideration, and advocated by Chiarelli, are geo-thermal wells to assist those boilers with heating and the new air conditioning units with cooling.
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Renewable energy is growing more popular in Ohio 
More businesses are turning to solar energy to power manufacturing plants and warehouses.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015 – Reporter Lauren Blue
WKSU Public Radio – Kent State University – Podcast MP3
The falling price of materials has made solar energy more cost effective.

Despite the two-year freeze on state renewable energy standards, Ohio businesses are increasingly turning to solar energy. The falling price of materials and a more efficient manufacturing process — along with a 30 percent tax credit — has made solar energy more cost effective. Bill Spratley is the executive director of Green Energy Ohio. He says the public is starting to think differently about solar energy.

“The conventional wisdom is we don’t have enough sunlight; the reality is that we have more sunlight than the whole nation of Germany. Germany has more solar energy than any country in the world. So solar energy works well anywhere in the world,” Spratley says.

Spratley says solar technology is improving every day and growing in popularity. Green Energy Ohio will be holding a solar-energy conference next Thursday in Cleveland Heights.

WKSU 32669_squarefeature
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The State of Solar in Ohio with Green Energy Ohio – YouTube

Video for Green Energy Ohio Solar▶ 2:33
Apr 10, 2015 – Uploaded by Solar Power World
Bill Spratley of Green Energy Ohio talks with Solar Power World during the “Ohio’s Big Solar Business” Workshop on March 27, 2015 at the Toledo Museum of Art