Last week was a temporary setback for the state’s solar industry as the Ohio House passed HB 554 by a vote of 54-40 while the Ohio Senate passed SB 320 by a vote of 18-13. The good news is that the two bills did not pass with an overwhelming majority needed to overcome any sort of veto by Ohio Governor John Kasich. This means that if the governor keeps his promise to veto any extension of the freeze the RPS will be reinstated and solar consumers will once again have a brighter financial solar future. Governor Kasich has 10 working days to use his veto before the legislation automatically becomes law.
The result of the Renewable Portfolio Standard in Ohio has been a significant decrease in the price of Solar Renewable Energy Credits, which has resulted in reduced revenue streams for residential and commercial solar clients. The Suspension of the RPS also makes Ohio more reliant on more expensive forms of energy instead of clean, environmentally safe solar energy.
The benefits of the RPS would include lower electricity bills for Ohio citizens by spurring greater competition for different forms of energy creation. This would lead to the creation of good paying jobs in solar and wind as the industry continues to make strides forward. Currently, more than 210,000 workers are employed in the solar industry in America including an estimated 4,800 in Ohio.
The major cause of solar growth in the state would come from major corporations installing solar panels on the roofs of their business as well as in utility fields around the state. Companies such as Amazon, Google, and Apple have evolving solar policies with the stated intention of becoming 100% sustainable in their energy policies.
The two bills in the Ohio legislature do not have any mandatory goals that have to be achieved, instead opting for voluntary goals. What we know about human behavior is that a voluntary goal is not the same thing as an enforced standard. Utilities will simply not meet the goals by themselves and we will see a continued deflation of our SREC markets. Currently, SRECs are trading at an all-time low of $7.50. The expectation is that the SREC market will rebound with the RPS reinstated. This could mean thousands of dollars over the next decade plus for solar clients which would reduce their payback time on their solar energy system and make solar a more effective financial option.
The hard work has been completed. Members of the solar and wind industries have rallied support to testify before the House and Senate communities. We have also contacted out representatives through email and phone call, and have gotten extensive press coverage of the issue across the state and the country. At this point, we are waiting on Governor Kasich to live up to his promise of vetoing the bill and once again putting Ohio on the right path.