Ohio, in 2008, created their own renewable portfolio standard that necessitated 25 percent of the overall energy in Ohio is created out of advanced energy sources by the year 2025. According to the portfolio, more than half of the energy created, must come from in-state sources. The impact of this standard and the venture into clean technologies is very evident across the Buckeye State. Small companies, homeowners, and farmers are investing in wind turbines and solar panels, large scale renewable projects are being introduced and numerous companies are involved in the supply chain manufacturing for renewable energy.
1) Incentives for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. To increase the importance of the use in renewable energies, Ohio offers a number of financial incentives to businesses and residents. Incentives include the Energy Conversion Facilities Corporate Tax Exemption, Home Improvement Program, Energy Smart Home Program, GEO Solar Thermal Rebate Program, Tax Incentives for Improving Air Quality in Ohio, Residential Property Tax Abatement for Green Buildings, Energy Conversion Facilities Sales Tax Exemption, Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate Program, Commercial Energy Efficiency Rebate Program, and a slew of other Utility loan and rebate programs, state loan and rebate programs, sales and property tax incentives, non-profit rebate programs, local loan programs, and corporate exemptions.
2) Tax Elimination on all Renewable Energy Projects to Increase Investment and Jobs. To create more investment into renewable energy products, in late 2010, the governor signed legislation removing all personal and real property taxes for facilities housing renewable energy project t was the belief of the governor that after the recession, it is the duty of Ohio to assist in increasing investment into Ohio. According to the governor, “I signed this order to implement these rules and help spur business investment immediately. This tax reform is part of our economic development strategy to strengthen Ohio’s business climate and help create jobs for Ohioans in our growing industries, like advanced energy.” This tax elimination will lower the tax burden on companies wanting to locate and grow and create new jobs.
3) University Involvement. Because of the increased focus into renewable energy and energy efficiency, many universities are now offering programs and degrees in various renewable energy topics. Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio offers an MSE in Renewable and Clean Energy, the University of Dayton offers an MS in Renewable and Clean Energy, and both University of Northwestern Ohio and Hocking College offer an AAS in Alternative Energy.
4) Ohio Third Frontier. Ohio has allotted more than $20 million in grants for clean technology energy products, such as fuel cell technologies, energy storage, biofuel, wind, and solar. With only the investment into biofuel, more than 20,000 jobs are said to be created and would increase opportunities for not only the development, but the deployment as well of fuel cell technology. Many companies and universities were awarded grants for research and development of renewable energy technologies.
5) Foreign Investment. Because of the growth of the cleantech sector in Ohio, the state has been eyed by some major international cleantech players, one of the biggest being Israel. In mid 2010, major Israeli cleantech company LN Greentech, started a number of meetings with Ohio that resulted in signing with Ohio Clean Technologies Group. This not only created more than 2,000 sustainable jobs, but it also created a direct route to bring clean technologies in clean and alternative energy sources to the Ohio market.
6) Green Energy Ohio. One impact is the further promotion of economically and environmentally sustainable energy policies throughout the state through Green Energy Ohio, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting environmentally and economically sustainable energy policies and practices in Ohio. Green Energy Ohio offers a number of events, job and internship placement, networking, programs and resources into renewable energy. This non-profit organization provides information on all different forms of renewable energy; including biomass, hydro, solar, and energy, in an effort to have more utilize it.
7) Increasing Resources and Increasing Jobs. The growth of renewable resources will transform Ohio’s energy supply as well as provide fuel for the economy. Renewable energy sources will lower Ohio’s 77 percent reliance on coal and its 60 percent reliance on imported power-plant fuel. Ohio, is twenty-seventh in the country currently with wind-power production and is poised to rise up. A study concluded that if Ohio would generate 20 percent of energy from wind production by the year 2020, it would generate more than 3,000 permanent jobs. Ohio also has strong potential in the biomass industry, it is seventh in the nation for the production and could generate 7.5 percent of all electricity needs by 2020 and create hundreds of new jobs in the process. Lastly, Ohio is using solar photovoltaic manufacturing companies to increase its economy and create more than 5,000 jobs.
8 ) Cleveland is well positioned for cleantech. Cleveland’s manufacturing expertise offers strong base for companies in the Cleantech supply chain. The industries that are part of the Cleantech supply chain collectively represent $12.5 billion, or 7.5 percent of Northeast Ohio’s economy today, and is projected to grow more than 20 percent between 2010 and 2015
9) Incentives for Cleaning up Contaminated Lands. To further reduce carbon footprints, it has been a necessity to clean up contaminated lands in Ohio. Funds that assist with this are the Clean Ohio Assistance Fund, the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund, Urban Redevelopment Loan Program, and the Water Pollution Control Loan Fund.
10) Rules and Regulations for Electric Utilities. A series of rules were created by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio regarding energy efficiency and renewable energy for electric utilities in the state. The rules require Ohio utility companies to elevate the amount of power generated by renewable technologies, from .25 percent in 2009 to 25 percent by 2025. Furthermore, solar power must reach .5 percent of all power in Ohio by 2024. The last rule mandates each utility report its greenhouse gas emissions with the international climate registry and to file an annual carbon dioxide control plan with the Ohio EPA.
Article by Shawn Lesser, president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which is focused on fund-raising for private equity cleantech/sustainable funds, as well as private cleantech companies and M&A. He is also a co- founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association, and can be reached at email@example.com