Senate Bill 310 threatens to prevent Ohio from keeping jobs and attracting investment in renewable energy

The following OpEd, written by GEM Energy / RL Solar’s Jason Slattery, appeared in The Toledo Blade Tuesday, 20, 2014. Read below, or view the contents on The Blade’s website.

Solar power, advanced energy, and energy efficiency are important elements of Ohio’s future economic success. Our state is becoming an increasingly attractive place for solar energy.

But if the Ohio House approves Senate Bill 310, that progress will halt. The bill threatens to prevent our state from keeping jobs and attracting local, national, and global investors in solar and other forms of renewable energy — one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy.

In 2007, Rudolph/​Libbe added solar project development to our construction services. Since then, solar energy has become a viable and economical method of producing power.

Our solar installations cost only one-fourth what they did in 2007. Few other industries can claim such a rapid cost reduction. That makes it increasingly unnecessary for investors to need incentives to develop solar projects.

Ohio’s current clean-energy law is achieving its goal of driving down the cost of alternative energy. It promotes a diversified energy portfolio, composed of many types of generation sources, to prevent overreliance on a single and sometimes limited natural resource.

You wouldn’t choose a single investment type for all of your retirement savings. It’s just as important to ensure that Ohio’s electrical generation does not depend on one energy source.

Our current law promotes diversification. SB 310 would eliminate this diversification and weaken Ohio for years to come.

The beauty of solar power is its free, consistently available fuel: sunlight. This natural resource is protected from significant cost increases caused by uncontrollable external factors, ranging from polar vortexes to global politics.

Solar growth keeps investment local, and its assets last for 25 years or more. Solar arrays are highly versatile; they can be built in otherwise unusable areas such as brownfield sites and rooftops, making these locations productive.

Solar generation and energy efficiency are growth businesses for our community. They remain bright spots in a local economy that has been hit hard by the Great Recession.

If SB 310 becomes law, it will send a message to investors that Ohio does not welcome them. They will move on to states with more progressive, business-friendly policies.

Effective policy should guide and encourage businesses to grow and invest locally. Solar energy is a great investment: An array that produces clean power and has no negative impact on the environment will provide predictable, stable energy costs over more than a quarter-century.

Our aging electrical grid needs modernization. The demand for solar and advanced energy will be part of this solution. Our changing energy landscape will require creative solutions from all of us.

Such solutions are not to be found in SB 310. It’s profoundly disappointing to see Ohio lawmakers considering a measure that would be so detrimental to the long-term success of Ohio’s businesses and citizens.

Ohio is earning a reputation as a best-in-class state for attracting and retaining local, national, and global investment. We have an opportunity to continue this leadership role by maintaining modern energy policies, holding down energy costs, and keeping jobs here.

To continue this momentum, House members must make the right decision and defeat Senate Bill 310.