Ohio’s Controversial Renewable Energy Policy Could Cost More Than You Think

Amazon’s HQ2 shortlist now includes 20 major cities across the country, including Ohio’s own Columbus. Amazon’s shortlist was determined by a list of factors, including quality of life and economy.

Columbus actually ranks pretty high above most major American cities in these areas, except for one. With a lack of renewable energy standards in place for Amazon headquarters, the legislature’s controversial 2014 windmill minimum setback law threatens to imperil the capital’s bid for Amazon HQ2.

Passed in 2014, the minimum setback law mandated that windmills had to be at least 1,125 feet away from adjacent properties. Today, that law has cost the state close to 50,000 jobs, billions in revenue for downtown cities, as well as local school districts and businesses in the Northern and Central Ohio.

Right now, the state does have two utility-scale wind farms, as well as a large scale solar farm at Bowling Green. One is currently in production in Brown County-, which will be seven times larger than Bowling Green’s. Unfortunately, the state severed its Renewable Energy Standards, which forced utility companies to meet certain standards, such as reducing peak demand and obtaining a certain portion of electricity generated from renewables.

The state does provide consumers the option to acquire renewable energy from local suppliers or energy procurement consultants. Ohio is only one of few states that allow this, along with its neighbor Pennsylvania. If consumers want to pay more for renewable energy, they can. Although, this is far more unaffordable than states like New York, which also offer energy deregulation.

Without renewable energy standards in place, the choice to acquire renewables is slowly being squeezed out of consumers. While Ohio’s solar industry is rapidly growing, its lack of state support for other renewables puts it at a competitive disadvantage with other states seeking our renewable alternatives, as well as other cities bidding on HQ2.