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Community Solar Gets First Senate Hearing

Community Solar Gets First Senate Hearing

6/11/24, 4:00 PM

As excitement builds for community solar in Ohio, Senate Bill 247, sponsored by Sen. George Lang (R-West Chester) is scheduled to receive its first hearing in the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee at 3:30 p.m. today. SB 247 would create a designated community solar pilot project, offering residents a choice of more efficient, less expensive energy by allowing them to power their homes with renewable sources. Companion legislation, House Bill 197, has generated support over the past year from both lawmakers and witnesses in a series of committee hearings. Meanwhile, no witnesses attended HB 197’s most recent opponent testimony hearing, May 8, to speak against the bill.

“I am excited to lease my land for community solar development,” said Greenfield, Ohio, farmer Duane Ross. “This will help the community by generating local electricity while bringing in much-needed revenue for my farm. I urge Ohio lawmakers to support HB 197 and SB 247 to establish more in-state renewable power generation.”

HB 197 and SB 247 will save money for participants without a net cost to other Ohio consumers, according to a study authored this spring by Karl R. Rábago, a respected energy consultant with more than three decades of experience in the industry. A former Texas Public Utility commissioner and senior official with the U.S. Department of Energy, Rábago determined the Ohio community solar pilot program would create jobs, reduce dependency on imported energy and redevelop brownfield sites.

Community solar would attract new businesses that have committed to using renewable energy, while also providing stability to the energy consumer landscape. Earlier this year, AEP Ohio announced its average customers will experience a hike of almost 30% in their energy bills this summer, citing increases in generation supply prices and energy use. The benefits to Ohio’s overall energy capacity and grid infrastructure that would be provided by a community solar program demonstrate the urgency of passing HB 197 and SB 247 into law.

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