Ohio’s Clean Energy Crossroads
House Bill 114 represents an opportunity to reset the state’s current approach and unlock significant investment.
Ohio lawmakers are continuing their debate on the shift to clean energy, kicking off 2017 focused on utility policy and the fate of the renewable portfolio standards (RPS).
The stakes are clear: Ohio’s energy policy can unleash economic development and fuel substantial job growth with new renewable energy, or it can continue to stunt growth in Ohio while its neighbors sprint to the future.
This week, Apex Clean Energy President and CEO Mark Goodwin submitted testimony before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee in its consideration of HB 114. This bill phases out the state’s RPS, which came back in full force this year, and changes the “standards” to “goals” before abolishing them altogether.
HB 114 represents a step backward for Ohio’s emerging clean energy economy and misses a huge opportunity to level the playing field in favor of a diverse energy portfolio. As Mark made clear in his testimony, HB 114 is silent on the restrictive property line setbacks for wind turbines that were enacted without hearing or debate in 2014.
“By reversing course on the RPS and failing to address the current property line setbacks for wind, the legislature is missing a significant opportunity to modernize the state’s energy mix, provide savings to ratepayers, and shape a business climate attractive to local communities and Fortune 500 companies alike.” —Testimony on HB 114 by Mark Goodwin, Apex President and CEO
The takeaway? Ohio ratepayers deserve a diverse energy portfolio that promotes new low-cost power, and the state’s energy policy must include repeal of the current property line setback for wind turbines. Job creators, investors, and Ohio communities demand it.
Lawmakers in the Buckeye State are finding themselves at a crossroads. They can lock in utilities to the status quo that has stymied competition and proven costly to ratepayers, or they can unleash Ohio’s new energy economy, which promises to attract twenty-first-century jobs, hedge against long-term price fluctuations for energy, and keep Ohio competitive.
Apex Clean Energy will continue to lead the shift to clean energy in Ohio. Read Mark’s full testimony below:
Opponent Testimony of Mark Goodwin, President and Chief Executive Officer, on House Bill 114 on behalf of Apex Clean Energy Management, LLC
Ohio House Public Utilities Committee
March 21, 2017
Chairman Seitz, Vice Chairman Carfagna, Ranking Member Ashford, and Members of the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee, thank you for the opportunity to provide comments in opposition to House Bill 114. My name is Mark Goodwin and I am president and chief executive officer of Apex Clean Energy, a leading utility-scale renewable energy company headquartered in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Apex has completed the development, finance, and construction of nine wind energy facilities and manages the operations for seven of those facilities. Apex maintains the largest development portfolio in the United States.
As a part of our continued growth, we have invested more than $15 million on five development stage projects in Ohio. This represents over 1 gigawatt of projects and the opportunity for an additional $2.6 billion to be invested in the state.
Unfortunately, the state’s current approach to renewable energy, including the approach detailed in House Bill 114, misses the mark. Stable policies for renewable energy development, as well as reasonable requirements for siting wind turbines, are necessary to enable renewable energy projects and to attract the companies that want to buy power from them.
House Bill 114 represents an opportunity to reset the current approach and unlock significant investment in Ohio. This legislation not only moves the state away from a diverse energy portfolio, but also does nothing to remedy the prohibitive property line setbacks for wind turbines set forth in current law. The setbacks imposed in 2014 under HB 483 have created a de facto moratorium on wind development in Ohio and are preventing companies like ours from making significant investments in local communities across the state. We believe the current property line setback rules in Ohio are the most restrictive siting guidelines in the country and need to be changed to unlock private investment in Ohio-based wind resources.
Ohio has a lot to lose in the way of economic development as a result of this sort of policy uncertainty. Major corporations are increasingly seeking low-cost wind and solar power to meet growth, reinvestment, and sustainability goals. Last year, Fortune 500 companies, including manufacturers, advanced technology firms, and other non-utility customers accounted for half of the total renewable power purchase agreements in the United States. Renewable energy has become a difference-maker when these companies choose to expand or relocate, and right now, Ohio is losing in the competition to attract new jobs.
Local communities, small businesses, and workers benefit from renewable power as well. The Apex wind projects under development in Ohio will generate the following economic benefits for local communities over the projects’ lifetimes:
- $118 million in county and township payments
- $156 million in landowner payments
- $234 million in school payments
- More than 625 construction jobs and 65 long-term operations and maintenance jobs
With the expiration of the RPS freeze and resumption of the standards this year, Ohio is again positioned to be an “all-of-the-above” energy leader and an attractive place to do business. By functionally moving the RPS standards to voluntary goals, and again changing the rules of the game, HB 114 would only heighten uncertainty in Ohio’s investment climate.
For the reasons outlined above, Apex opposes House Bill 114. Ohio’s approach to renewable energy deserves a comprehensive strategy for determining the state’s energy future. By reversing course on the RPS and failing to address the current property line setbacks for wind, the legislature is missing a significant opportunity to modernize the state’s energy mix, provide savings to ratepayers, and shape a business climate attractive to local communities and Fortune 500 companies alike.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comment on HB 114.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Apex Clean Energy