November 2020 Connections
Where we are and where we are going.....Stay connected

November was the month of uncommon events – starting with an election that took almost a week to conclude and ending with a Thanksgiving that saw fewer loved ones around the table. In some ways, time seems to be moving more quickly during the pandemic, and perhaps it’s a good thing that we are rushing headlong into a new year that we hope will be an improvement over 2020.

As we look back on this year, we are focused on how these times have made Green Energy Ohio a stronger, more resilient organization. We began 2020 with the excitement of GEO’s 20th anniversary. Then, not quite three months into the year, we canceled over half a dozen in-person events, put our Annual Awards Presentation and Anniversary Celebration on hold, and had to forgo plans for celebrating another milestone – the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. 

Resilience is defined as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. I am proud to say that GEO responded to the challenges of 2020 with the same sense of purpose that has marked our two decades of clean energy leadership. We designed and produced a series of virtual conversations titled “Clean Energy in the Age of Coronavirus” with leading journalists, businessmen, academics, local government officials, nonprofit organizations, and energy providers. We partnered with ASES, SUN, and Generation 180 on the virtual National Solar Tour, showcasing Ohio school districts with solar systems. And we reluctantly moved our Anniversary Celebration to an online platform. Little did we know how much fun that would turn out to be! My favorite of the many congratulatory notes I received said, “Talk about making lemonade from lemons...” To me, that is the best definition of resilience.

We come to you this Giving Tuesday and throughout our Annual Campaign this holiday season to ask for your support, knowing that your gift means even more this year. The goals that GEO has pursued for the past 20 years have never had greater importance. We face the rapidly increasing impacts of climate change; a lack of understanding among some policymakers of the economic, public health, and environmental benefits of clean energy; and resistance to embrace the future led by special interests of the past. Green Energy Ohio is committed to addressing these challenges through the education, outreach, and advocacy that are at the heart of our mission. 

We are grateful that you have stood with us through this year of unexpected change and for your continued support moving forward.
Jane Harf, Executive Director
GivingTuesday is Tomorrow!
GivingTuesday is an opportunity for you to support the causes that matter most to you and to participate in the change you want to see in the community, the state, and around the world. Tomorrow, December 1, join the global generosity movement and let the world know you support a green energy future. Consider a donation today and help us kick off GivingTuesday strong!
GEO, the Ohio Environmental Council, and Solar United Neighbors are partnering to host a two-day workshop on community solar development designed for Northeast Ohio local officials, municipal staff, and facilities managers. Local solar activists are also welcome to attend.

This is the fourth in a series of workshops that the OEC and GEO began in the summer of 2018 and the first to be offered on a virtual platform. To accommodate work schedules, the workshop is divided into two-hour sessions presented on successive days. The first day will focus on why solar development is important for a community, and the second day will address specific mechanisms for growing local solar, including a case study of Lakewood's experience. Participants will hear from experts in siting, financing, community outreach, and utility standards. An update on community efforts in carbon reduction across the state will be provided by Power a Clean Future Ohio. There is no cost to attend.
Encouraging Environmental Excellence for Communities (E3C) Recognition Program
Given Green Energy Ohio's engagement with efforts of local communities to become more sustainable through clean energy, we are pleased to share information about the Ohio EPA's E3C program.

On December 9 at 10:00 am, the Ohio EPA will host a webinar to provide an overview of the Encouraging Environmental Excellence for Communities (E3C) program that recognizes a community’s exceptional achievements in environmental stewardship. As part of the the Ohio EPA's “In Your Community” webinar series, it will highlight how any local government in Ohio can be recognized for its commitment to environmental excellence.

The E3C Program has three levels of recognition for different stages of implementing stewardship initiatives through environmental, economic, and social programs and activities, including:
  • Implementation Level: Completes one activity in the environmental category.
  • Stewardship Level: Completes one activity in the economic category, one activity in the social category, and two activities in the environmental category.
  • Sustainable Level: Completes two activities in the economic category, two activities in the social category, and four activities in the environmental category.

Applications use a checklist and narrative format and are accepted at any time. Applications are evaluated using environmental stewardship activities developed by Ohio EPA. To register for the webinar, click here.
Solar Power and Light — Expanding Horizons
by Erin Fisher

Just over a decade ago, a small team of engineers founded Solar Power and Light. With backgrounds ranging from electrical engineering to metallurgy, founders Neil Chaudhry and Brent Boyd were confident in the technology and process behind solar energy.

Their first order of business? Installing a 72.8kW solar system on their own roof. “We knew that the technology worked,” Brent continued, but it was important at the onset, “to prove to ourselves that the economics worked too.”

With 325 solar panels “powering everything from computers to HVAC” at their headquarters, SP&L set out to prove that all types of organizations and facilities could benefit from the environmental and economic advantages of solar energy. Click here to continue reading the SP&L story.
The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) has received a record number of applications for new utility-scale solar installations throughout Ohio. Whereas wind farms are more limited in geographic location, solar farms are being sited throughout the state. Data from the OPSB website shows facilities that are approved, pending, or in the pre-application process in 18 counties, with some counties hosting more than one.

Chapter 4906 of the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) lays out the process for certification of solar facilities over 50 MW. Requirements address project description and schedule; project area selection and site design; economic impact and public interaction; compliance with air, water, and solid waste regulations; and health and safety, land use, and ecological information. At each stage of the process, there is opportunity for public participation from informal comments at a public information meetings to formal intervention in the case. You can sign up to receive OPSB press releases, board meeting agendas, and hearing announcements through their website. The OPSB calendar can be filtered by event type and county, and cases can be searched by stage in the process, type of project, and county.

With the increase in projects comes a new set of developers ready to invest in Ohio, as well as familiar names expanding their footprint in the state. GEO business memberships afford an opportunity to be part of the growing clean energy community. Some, like Apex Clean Energy, are long-time GEO partners, while others, such as Lightsource bp, are among our newest members. GEO will be supporting company efforts to educate residents about the benefits of these projects and will provide comments at public hearings.

There are two public hearings scheduled for December, and several already on the calendar for early next year. To learn more, visit the GEO website.
The fallout from House Bill 6 and associated activities continue. Even as the call for repeal has grown, the legislature has not yet acted and has provided few opportunities for public input. One of those opportunities took place in the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee in early November, and GEO submitted testimony in support of SB 346, the Senate’s version of a repeal bill.

To ensure that all voices were heard, a coalition including Green Energy Ohio hosted three virtual open forums where citizens could voice their concerns and an online roundtable where clean energy business leaders could share the negative impact that legislation like HB 6 is having on Ohio’s economy. Given the fact that all legislators on the ballot who voted for HB 6 were returned to office – including indicted former Speaker Larry Householder – and four of the bill’s opponents were defeated at the polls, clean energy activists may face an even more challenging situation in the 134th General Assembly. 

In the final days of this session, another regressive bill has been introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives. HB 786 would suspend OPSB certification of all utility-scale wind and solar facilities for three years or until the legislature enacts new certification guidance. While unlikely to move at this time, it may be a preview of conversations to come.

If the composition of the Statehouse will look the same, the make-up of the PUCO will not. Under pressure from a separate FBI investigation, Chairman Sam Randazzo submitted his resignation. The search for a replacement will begin in early December. Given the number of new facilities in the planning stage and the applications already under review at the OPSB, this appointment carries considerable weight.
Climate education can often be overwhelming and disheartening. Compassion fatigue is a dangerous thing, and we’ve all been there — which is why GEO is excited to present you with this month’s book recommendation. 

The Story of More is written by Hope Jahren, an award-winning paleontologist, passionate teacher, and riveting writer. Her newest book is accessible and informative to all: “My own goal is to inform you, not to scare you, because teaching has taught me to know and respect the difference. I’ve found that fear makes us turn away from an issue, whereas information draws us in.”

Jahren draws us into a journey of her own story, using the timeline of her life to teach us about climate change. Each chapter covers a different topic that explains the link between our climate-threatening human habits, from electricity consumption to food waste to our current agricultural systems. The story is full of humor, relatability, vulnerability, and clear-cut facts: an accessible way to encounter the truth of climate change without leaving you paralyzed by compassion fatigue.

Even more useful is the discussion of how we can all fight back against climate change. Jahren shifts from teaching readers about our history to encouraging them to care for our shared home by considering “more equity, more knowledge, and more habitable years on the planet.” To achieve this goal, Jahren shares her simple, yet contemplative message: “What was only a faint drumbeat as I began to research this book now rings in my head like a mantra: Use Less and Share More.” 

The Story of More will leave a mark on every reader’s heart and push us all toward taking better care of our world.