September 2020 Connections
Where we are and where we are going.....
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New Beginnings

Autumn brings with it new beginnings – in school,work and leisure time – and even if those beginnings are different this year, we are seeing the increase in activity that follows the summer months. This is certainly true for Green Energy Ohio. You will see in this newsletter announcements of GEO activities in September and October, and we hope you will join us for opportunities to learn, celebrate, and connect. 

The National Solar Tour – all virtual this year – takes place the week of September 28-October 4. Starting on September 26 is National Drive Electric Week, with six Drive Electric Ohio chapters throughout the state. Green Energy Ohio’s 20th Anniversary Celebration and Green Achievement Awards presentation is scheduled for October 23. Earlier that week, on October 21, Green Energy Ohio is hosting "Grow with GEO Day” at HOMEARAMA 2020 in Cincinnati.

This is also a time of year to reflect on what we have accomplished, even under the difficult constraints of the pandemic. The missed opportunities to gather in person, the postponed or canceled events, and the uncertainty about when life will return to normal have tested our flexibility as an organization. We are proud of the new ways we have found to pursue our mission, including the virtual platform used to inform our members and supporters in the “Clean Energy in the Age of Coronavirus” series. The six conversation videos are available on our website at the link above. Thank you to all of our guests and participants in the series.

We have maintained our voice in the public policy arena, at the Statehouse and the Ohio Power Siting Board, in support of projects and policies that move Ohio forward. Our partnership with YellowLite on the "Power with a Purpose" pilot program links the company's clients with GEO memberships, and is an initiative that we plan to expand next year. AEP Energy's ECO-Advantage offering provides their customers with green generation and supports GEO. Last, but by no means least, we have welcomed new individual and business members and are ready to launch an academic affiliate program.

This has not been the year that any of us expected, but it has been a time to discover where our strengths lie and to plan for a future with unlimited potential. I invite you to join us on that journey!
Jane Harf, Executive Director
Join us on Friday, October 23, from 7:00-8:30 pm for an exciting virtual event

Green Energy Ohio has decided to move our Annual Awards Ceremony and 20th Anniversary event to a virtual format this year. Gathering virtually will give GEO friends from all regions of the state a chance to celebrate with us!
You won't want to miss the celebration of our 20th Anniversary and presentation of this year's Green Achievement Awards in the Business, Academic, Nonprofit, and Community/Government categories, as well as two Lifetime Green Achievement Awards

Keynote Remarks from Congressman Ro Khanna

Congressman Ro Khanna represents an area of California currently experiencing wildfires fueled by the effects of climate change.
As a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, he will share his perspective on federal energy and climate initiatives and how we can support leading Congressional voices on these critical policy issues.
Ticket holders will receive a 20th Anniversary commemorative poster and will be able to view the program for 30 days after October 23.
While our signature Green Energy Ohio Tour was canceled this year to protect the health and safety of our Tour hosts and visitors, you can still participate in the virtual National Solar Tour hosted by ASES and Solar United Neighbors. Lengthened to an entire week, each day has a theme, including electric vehicles, community building, solar businesses, and solar schools.

GEO is partnering with with Generation 180 to celebrate the role that schools play in creating a brighter future by organizing virtual solar school open houses. Solar Schools Day is October 1, and we want to showcase the leadership of Ohio school districts with solar installations, as well as educate others about the benefits of going solar. It's not too late for schools to sign up!

As part of Generation 180's work on solar schools, they have just released the third edition of their Brighter Future Report, prepared in partnership with The Solar Foundation and Solar Energy Industries Association. The report includes the latest data on installation rates, capacity growth, methods of financing, case studies of recent solar school projects, and an interactive map. Ohio ranks #14 in installed capacity and #23 in the number of schools. Key findings of the report include: 
  • Over the last five years, K-12 schools more than doubled the total amount of installed solar
  • 7,332 schools nationwide now utilize solar power, making up 5.5 percent of all K-12 public and private U.S. schools
  • The number of schools with solar increased by 81% since 2014
  • More than 5.3 million students attend a school with solar

GEO's involvement with solar schools goes back many years, as you can read below, and we are excited to see the progress that has been made.
Green Energy Ohio has had a long association with efforts to promote solar schools. Ohio Schools Going Solar began in the spring of 1999 - even before GEO came into existence - with the installation of a 2-kilowatt photovoltaic array at Bluffsview Elementary School in the Worthington School District. The program began as a partnership between the school district, the Foundation for Environmental Education, AEP's Learning from Light program, the Ohio Department of Development’s Office of Energy Efficiency (ODOD/OEE), and the U.S. Department of Energy (U.S. DOE) By 2003, there were 47 participants in Ohio Schools Going Solar , including public and private schools, zoos, museums, colleges and universities in 22 counties across Ohio. Many of those systems were installed by GEO founding business member Third Sun Solar. Educational support for the program was provided through the Ohio Energy Project. Participating schools became a partner in the U.S. DOE's Million Solar Roofs Initiative.  Throughout the years, GEO has worked with partner organizations like these to spread the word on the educational, financial, and environmental benefits available to schools who choose to "Go Solar."

GEO also worked in the governmental arena to ensure support for school districts considering solar installations. In 2008, Senate Bill 221 - which established Ohio's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) - also directed the Ohio School Facilities Commission (now the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission) to adopt standards for solar ready equipment in school buildings under their jurisdiction. The term "solar ready" was defined as capable of accommodating the installation of roof-top photovoltaic equipment, including space limitations, shading and obstruction, building orientation, roof loading capacity, and electrical systems. The requirements were incorporated into the Ohio School Design Manual and in administrative rules approved in 2012.

There is now a generation of young adults who grew up with solar power on their schools, and who have become ambassadors for renewable energy!
Sustainability at GOJO: Changing How the World Stays Well
by Courtney VanHuffel

GOJO Industries is an Ohio-based company and an important member of Green Energy Ohio (GEO). GOJO is committed to making well-being solutions for consumers under the GOJO®, PURELL® and PROVON® brand names, with products such as hand sanitizers, hand soaps, surface sanitizing and disinfecting formulas, and more. 

As a GEO business member, GOJO is one of several who isn’t actually in the clean energy business. Instead, GOJO makes use of clean energy as part of its corporate sustainability strategy. The corporation has a committed team that has implemented very successful projects for the company in sustainability, particularly in clean energy. 

And no one is more familiar with GOJO’s sustainability initiatives and successes than Tom Marting, Facilities, Environmental, Health, Safety, and Sustainability Director at GOJO.
While Tom was getting his chemical engineering degree at Ohio University in the 1990's, he was not thinking of sustainability as a career path. But rather, after working at L’Oreal as a Project Engineer and later an Environmental Manager, he decided to pursue sustainability as a profession at GOJO.  

Click here to continue reading about Tom and GOJO.
Save the Date!

Enjoy local refreshments and conversation with fellow advocates while you take a greener look at HOMEARAMA® 2020, featuring two Gold level LEED-certified homes. Learn more about Green Energy Ohio, meet some of our partners in the community who are working for a green future, and find out how you can get involved. Grow what you know with GEO!
The purchase of your admission ticket goes directly to supporting our work to educate Ohioans on the availability, use, and benefits of renewable resources and energy conservation and efficiency!

If your organization or business is interested in joining us for Grow With GEO Day, please contact
Legislative and Regulatory Activity
House Bill 6
Three identical bills to repeal House Bill 6 have been introduced, two in the House and one in the Senate. The bills wipe the slate clean with regard to the provisions in HB 6, restoring previous renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates.  In the House, Speaker Robert Cupp has created a Select Committee on Energy Policy and Oversight to consider the proposed legislation; the Senate bill was referred to the Energy and Public Utilities Committee. Both committees have begun to hold hearings with invited witnesses, including the PUCO and PJM, the regional transmission organization. Given the limited number of days remaining in the legislative session, it is important to let our Senators and Representatives know that we expect them to undo the damage that was done by passage of HB 6 and corruption of the legislative process.
House Bill 738 (Democrat) House Bill 746 (Republican) Senate Bill 346
Ohio Power Siting Board
Ever since the OPSB issued an opinion in May containing a clause that would have crippled efforts to move forward with the off-shore Icebreaker Wind project, there has been a concerted effort on the part of activists, legislators, local officials, and business leaders to reverse the decision. Their objections were based on both substance and process. The "feathering" provision requiring shutdown of the turbines from dusk to dawn for eight months of the year ignored scientific evidence and an agreement that all parties had signed. Last week, the OPSB unanimously voted to delete the feathering requirement through an amendment offered by Director of Natural Resources Mary Mertz. There are still regulatory hurdles for the project, but this reversal will allow Icebreaker to remain viable, with the significant economic and environmental benefits for Ohio.
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio
The PUCO has opened a review on whether FirstEnergy and its Ohio affiliates used any ratepayer funds to lobby in support of House Bill 6 or in activities to stop the referendum effort to overturn it. The companies have until September 30 to demonstrate that no ratepayer monies were used. Interested parties can comment on FirstEnergy's response through November 13.
In the past, we have shared books and documentary films with our Climate Change Book Club. This month, we are looking at a different medium, and one quickly growing in popularity - the podcast. One of our favorites is a new climate podcast, How to Save a Planet, available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and most other listening platforms. Journalist Alex Blumberg and self-titled scientist and policy nerd, Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson have teamed up to ask the big questions: What do we need to do to solve the climate crisis, and how do we get it done?

In each episode, they set out to explore ways to solve the ongoing climate crisis and what is needed to implement these necessary changes. The series will also examine topics like disaster preparation and resilience, Europe’s Green New Deal, and the similarities between the climate movement and the Black Lives Matter movement. “Does climate change freak you out? Want to know what we, collectively, can do about it? Us too,” Spotify and Gimlet said of the podcast. Between easily digestible facts and silly jokes, Alex and Ayana aim to “figure out how to build the future we want.”

Their debut episode, The Witch of Wind, hits particularly close to home,as they discuss the burgeoning offshore wind industry, and the struggle the industry underwent to establish itself in the United States. They tell the story of how a local politician, the self-proclaimed “Queen of Coal”, helped push the once coal-fueled town of Somerset, MA, into becoming a launching point for offshore wind.

The episode is particularly relevant if you have been following the fight to approve the Icebreaker Wind Project in Northeast Ohio. “The good news is the things that you might think are really hard, we can do. The engineering, we can build the turbines off-shore, they are really big, and they work – they are efficient, and they produce a lot of power. The one thing engineers can’t figure out is how to change the human heart.”

Give the series a listen online or find them on Twitter and Instagram @how2saveaplanet.