Ohio's Largest County Forms Clean Energy Hub

One of the major policy priorities for many Republicans (and coal-based utilities) is to eliminate or dilute state programs that increase energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Take Ohio, where lawmakers froze the state’s efficiency and Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) last year … to study the costs vs benefits. Studies show the state has lost jobs and investment because of it, and now, its largest county is moving forward on the local level.

Cuyahoga County (which includes Cleveland) is forming a clean energy financing hub to make sure efficiency and renewable energy projects get funded.

Cuyahoga County

"If a business is willing to invest in energy efficiency or solar, they’re more likely to stay in your community. This is most definitely an economic development strategy for the county," Shanelle Smith, of Cuyahoga’s Department of Sustainability, told Midwest Energy News.

The hub will encourage PACE financing; match nonprofits that want to install solar with for-profit investors; provide financing for energy efficiency retrofits for homes, businesses and even cities.

Of course, putting financing together would be much easier with  meaningful efficiency standards and a RPS in place, Mike Foley, Cuyahoga County’s Director of Sustainability told Midwest Energy News.

Not surprisingly, the partisan committee charged with conducting the study of the state’s policies concluded that the freeze should be continued indefinitely, and the RPS should be weakened. Critics say the study omitted considerations of health and climate impacts from the policies.

"What’s most disappointing is the committee appears to have cherry-picked only those data – and some of questionable credibility – that best fit their preferred conclusion: that the standards should not return. The final report is completely devoid of the mountain of evidence available demonstrating the years of cost-effective savings these clean energy standards have provided," Samantha Williams of Natural Resources Defense Council, told Midwest Energy News.

"This time-out was offered as a harmless and prudent measure, but in fact it was a major setback to Ohio’s fast-growing advanced energy industry and the new jobs it was creating. Now, after a year of ‘study,’ it’s clear the authors of the report simply intend to shut down the clean energy sector in Ohio," Ted Ford of Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, told Midwest Energy News.

Ohio’s RPS requires 12.5% renewable energy by 2025 and before the freeze, required utilities to spend on energy efficiency programs. Since 2008, the policies have brought $1 billion in private investment to the state, saved $1 billion on electric bills and created 25,000 jobs, says the Natural Resources Defense Council. Since the freeze, renewable energy companies have been leaving the state and utilities have ended efficiency rebates. But ratepayers continue to pay a fee for the programs!

$300 Million Fund Forms in Southern California 

A new $300 million Clean Energy Fund will serve members and contractors of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 and Los Angeles Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.

The fund will finance energy efficiency, renewable energy and energy storage projects for commercial buildings, shopping centers, industrial facilities, multi-family housing, churches and lodging. Financing is available for projects across the US.

As a key component to their Net Zero Plus initiative, "We are offering a full spectrum of energy solutions from energy efficiency upgrades to building or retrofitting net zero and high performance buildings. The Net Zero Plus Electrical Training Institute provides a highly-trained workforce of energy specialists, testing and demonstrating emerging energy technologies in our living laboratory, and now another avenue to finance projects," says James Willson, Executive Director of LA/NECA.

"We will be offering multiple PACE project financing options as well as power purchase agreements and leases for NECA and IBEW members," explains Joe Berney, President of ReNewAll, the financing company. "ReNewAll’s various financing mechanisms allow contractors to deliver solutions to property owners for little to no out of pocket investment."

Read our articles, We Need a National Renewable Energy Portfolio and Great Idea! National Clean Energy Credit Union Launches Soon.

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