The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Renewable Power and Energy Efficiency on the Rise in Ohio
Ohio is on its way to a clean energy future, according to a new report by Environment Ohio, Ohio’s Clean Energy Report Card, Year 2: Wind, Solar, and Energy Efficiency on the Rise. Two years into the implementation of the state’s clean energy law, which sets standards for both renewable energy and energy efficiency, Ohio saved enough electricity each year to power 82,000 homes, among other significant benefits.
Coal-fired power plants still make up the vast majority of Ohio’s electricity supply, and that dependence contributes to making Ohio one of the nation’s largest emitters of soot, smog and global warming pollution. However, as Ohio’s largest utilities are taking steps to retire some of their oldest and most inefficient plants, clean energy technologies are becoming an increasingly important part of Ohio’s energy economy.
“As utilities modernize their electricity portfolios, Ohio’s Clean Energy Law is putting the state on track to replace its dirtiest fuel with the cleanest,” said Julian Boggs, Environment Ohio policy advocate. “Ohio is at a turning point, and we can see a clear, bright future ahead of us. Now is the time to double-down on clean energy and not look back.”
Environment Ohio’s report found that Ohio's clean energy law had been instrumental in the development of major clean energy projects across the state. In 2011, a 99 megawatt wind farm, the state’s largest, went online in Paulding County. The wind farm was built after American Electric Power signed a long-term contract to purchase electricity from its developer in order to meet their targets for renewable energy generation.
Other major projects highlighted in the report include Turning Point Solar which will break ground this summer in Noble County and is expected to be one of the largest solar projects east of the Mississippi, and a solar array on a Campbell’s Soup factory in Napoleon, which will be large enough to provide 15 percent of that factory’s power. In the short term, however, the biggest boost to Ohio’s clean energy sector has been from energy efficiency programs.
“In the short term, the cheapest, cleanest form of energy is efficiency. Ohio’s energy law has been remarkably successful in getting utilities to help their consumers save money and help cut pollution at the same time,” said Boggs. Utility programs saved Ohio consumers $351 million in 2009 and 2010, according to the American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy.
Clean energy alternatives are good news for Ohio’s health, too. “Pollution from power plants has a negative public health impact,” said Dr. Aparna Bole, Sustainability Manager at University Hospitals and a pediatrician at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. “Here in Ohio, we have an important opportunity to invest in the health of our communities through investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.”
Ohio’s growing clean energy economy is seeing jobs benefits as well. "Ohio's clean energy law ensures demand for solar energy that gives us confidence that we can grow our business," said Nael Zayed, a sales engineer with Yellowlite, Inc, a Cleveland, Ohio-based Solar Panel Installation company. "Because of the law, we’ve been able to grow and hire knowing that there will always be a buyer for solar power."
The report also evaluated individual utilities in their success in developing clean energy in 2010, the most recent year for which a complete data set was available. Dayton Power & Light and American Electric Power earned top marks for their efforts, while Duke Energy and First Energy missed the mark. Duke Energy earned a C-, coming short on securing renewable power, and FirstEnergy’s D- grade largely stemmed from its failure to implement energy efficiency programs.
Despite these shortfalls, the report showed a very positive picture of clean energy development in Ohio. “Every single one of Ohio’s utilities has been engaged in the development of clean energy. Even Duke and FirstEnergy have showed encouraging signs in 2011 and I’m optimistic that their scores will improve in our next report,” said Boggs.
In order to further tap clean energy potential in the state, the report made several recommendations to policymakers including stronger oversight from state regulators on renewable energy and energy efficiency utility programs, and a suite of supporting policies such as stronger building codes and better financing tools. Ultimately, said Boggs, legislators should consider strengthening the standards. “Leading states have solar standards that are six times as strong as Ohio’s. As the evidence continues to pour in that clean energy can provide local and sustainable energy alternatives to fossil fuels, we need to continue to be raising the bar.”
Environment Ohio is a state-wide, citizen-based, environmental advocacy organization.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
by Jordan Davidson
Taking action to stop the mercury from rising is a matter of life and death in the U.S., according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances.
By Alisa Opar
For Chinook salmon, the urge to return home and spawn isn't just strong — it's imperative. And for the first time in more than 65 years, at least 23 fish that migrated as juveniles from California's San Joaquin River and into the Pacific Ocean have heeded that call and returned as adults during the annual spring run.
By Jessica Corbett
Dozens of students, parents, teachers and professionals joined a Friday protest organized by Extinction Rebellion that temporarily stalled morning rush-hour traffic in London's southeasten borough of Lewisham to push politicians to more boldly address dangerous air pollution across the city.
Jose A. Bernat Bacete / Moment / Getty Images
By Bridget Shirvell
On a farm in upstate New York, a cheese brand is turning millions of pounds of food scraps into electricity needed to power its on-site businesses. Founded by eight families, each with their own dairy farms, Craigs Creamery doesn't just produce various types of cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss and Muenster cheeses, sold in chunks, slices, shreds and snack bars; they're also committed to becoming a zero-waste operation.
By Jessica A. Knoblauch
Summers in the Midwest are great for outdoor activities like growing your garden or cooling off in one of the area's many lakes and streams. But some waters aren't as clean as they should be.
That's in part because coal companies have long buried toxic waste known as coal ash near many of the Midwest's iconic waterways, including Lake Michigan. Though coal ash dumps can leak harmful chemicals like arsenic and cadmium into nearby waters, regulators have done little to address these toxic sites. As a result, the Midwest is now littered with coal ash dumps, with Illinois containing the most leaking sites in the country.