Energy policies and programs guide the use and sources of energy. They involve a set of measures that include laws, programs, incentives and agency directives. Policies are created at all levels of government – federal, state, county and local jurisdictions.
Existing Energy Policy in Ohio:
There are a number of key programs at the State level that have helped to shape energy policy for both energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives over the past few years in Ohio. They are as follows:
Ohio’s Clean Energy Law:
Ohio’s Clean Energy Law (Senate Bill 221), passed in 2008, set forth energy efficiency and renewable energy standards for the state’s four investor-owned utility companies – American Electric Power, Columbia Gas, Duke Energy, and First Energy. Chances are, as homeowners and/or business owners in the State of Ohio, you rely on one or more of these utilities for your electricity or heat. The intent of this Law is to increase the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy in Ohio homes and businesses by asking utilities to reduce their sales through energy efficiency, and increase the use of electricity generated through renewable alternatives (wind, solar, biomass, anaerobic digestions, etc.). Electricity generated through solar energy receives special recognition in this law.
How does this Clean Energy law affect you as a homeowner or business in Ohio? It is anticipated that by 2025 it will:
- save Ohio’s energy consumers $19 billion,
- improve our air quality by reducing carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, and
- stimulate our economy through the creation of jobs and increases in economic activity (Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy http://www.aceee.org/energy-efficiency-sector/state-policy/ohio/207/all/191)
As homeowners and businesses that desire to make the places you live or work more energy efficient and renewable, you may benefit from a variety of programs, financial assistance, resources and technical support from your investor-owned utility. Many other Ohio utilities, such as co-ops and municipal utilities, also offer similar incentives and programs designed to help you with your energy efficiency and renewable energy goals. To find out what is specifically available to you in your local area, use the searchable feature of the EnergizeOhio web site to determine what is available to help you reach your goals.
Local Energy Policies:
An increasing number of communities in Ohio are implementing policies and programs that encourage the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in homes and businesses. Some provide tax incentives for renewable energy applications, low-interest loans for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, technical assistance in project development and advice in meeting local governmental requirements, and other types of assistance. Here are a few examples from communities throughout Ohio:
- Cincinnati Property Tax Abatement for Green Buildings: abatement of portion of taxes on new construction or improvements to buildings to meet LEED Certification standards
- Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)/Financing/Special Energy Improvement Districts (SIDs): local laws that allow property owners to borrow money through governmental loans or bonds to pay for energy improvements to their properties. The amount borrowed is typically repaid via a special assessment on the property tax bill over a period of up to 30 years. Not all communities in Ohio currently have this program, so you will need to check with your local government.
- Hamilton County Property Improvement Program: Provides loans to residential and commercial buildings for energy efficiency projects. Loans have interest rates at 3% below market rate for a 5-year term. Loans capped at $50,000.
It is recommended that you contact your local governmental office to find out what types of policies are in place and if programs exist to help you with your renewable energy and energy efficiency goals in your home or business.
Future Energy Policy for Ohio:
Ohio Governor John Kasich held an energy summit, The Ohio Governor’s 21st Century Energy and Economic Development Summit, in September of 2011. Co-sponsored by the Governor, Ohio State University and the Battelle Institute, this summit gathered leaders from the energy, government and education sectors of Ohio to discuss an energy policy for the State of Ohio. Out of that summit came ideas and strategies the governor’s policy team used to build a comprehensive energy policy that rests on 10 pillars. The pillars were translated into legislation—Senate Bill 315—that supports a diverse mix of reliable, low-cost energy sources that meet Ohio’s continuing job-creation needs. To read more about SB 315, click here.