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Is Ohio Too Stupid For Solar?

Originally published on SolarWakeup.

How is that every four years, we as a nation let Ohio decide the presidential election when they’re too dumb to recognize that solar power should fuel its future?

For those of you who have lived under a rock for the past week, both the Ohio Senate and House (both controlled by antediluvian Republicans) passed — with great enthusiasm — a bill that would freeze the anemic Ohio solar quota (a ridiculous 0.22% by 2017) at 0.15% for two years, effectively killing the solar industry in Ohio and putting the 3,800 jobs the industry supports in jeopardy.

How close was the 2008 vote to create the renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in the first place? In three readings of the original bill, it only received one dissenting vote. One. Nothing passes with that anything approaching such unanimity.

Which, of course, meant that a battle was joined almost immediately. As The Huffington Post Green reported:

The Ohio legislature approved the renewable energy and efficiency standards in 2008, when it passed them almost unanimously. But opponents of the measure have been trying to roll them back for several years. Last year, state Sen. Bill Seitz, a Republican from Cincinnati, said the standards are like “Joseph Stalin’s five-year plan.” (Seitz is a co-sponsor of this year’s bill.)

I’m introducing a new corollary to Godwin’s Law: If you haven’t any understanding of what Joseph Stalin actually did in his forced industrialization of the Soviet Union, you are not allowed to use him in an analogy. Seitz proved the old rule that those who don’t understand history are doomed to sound like complete morons.

“A five-year plan?” Really? Let’s leave aside that the original standards were to be implemented over 14 years. I don’t see anyone in the Ohio’s government rounding up thousands of people and forcing them to build wind turbines or install solar panels. But hey: What fun is it to be in government if you can’t make outrageous, ill-informed analogies in an attempt to scare the rubes into supporting your legislation?

A freeze in the RPS would be bad enough, but as The Columbus Dispatch reports:

[Senate Bill 310] also makes major changes to the rules when they resume in 2017, ending a requirement that utilities purchase half of their renewable energy from within the state and expanding the types of projects that count as energy efficiency..Ohio is the first state of the 29 with renewable-energy standards to pass a reduction of the standards in both legislative chambers. Similar proposals have been made in more than a dozen other states and were all beaten back by some of the same concerns that were expressed in Ohio

Well, at least Ohio gets to be first in something.

There are those well-meaning (but ultimately naive) members of Ohio citizenry who thought Gov. John Kasich might see how deranged and demented his caucus had become and would veto the bill. Alas, they were bound to be disappointed as Kasich pulled the football away once the bill reached his desk. Again, let’s go to The Dispatch:

Gov. John Kasich plans to sign a controversial pullback on renewable-energy rules that passed the Ohio House yesterday.

After a lot of hard work, weve got a solid plan to examine the progress Ohio has made while also holding onto that progress,” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said in a statement.

He said the bill is a compromise between those who want to eliminate the energy rules and those who want no change. Its not what everyone wanted, which probably means we came down at the right spot,” he said.

No, John. It means nothing of the sort. There are facts, and then there are fantasies. Reducing Ohio’s RPS will kill jobs, raise electricity prices for all businesses and make Honda and Whirlpool — two of the state’s largest employers — reconsider their commitments. The idea that there will be forced renewable energy camps throughout the state is delusional.

Kudos to the six Republicans who bucked their party to oppose the bill (and shame on the two Democrats who supported it). But The Dispatch says House Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina, dismissed those six thusly (emphasis mine):

I think some people really believe in this green stuff. Thats fine.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is what’s largely wrong with Ohio’s attempts to jump on the solar bandwagon. The lunatics running the state don’t live in the reality where the solar industry is growing at a double-digit pace every year for the past five and could provide thousands of good-aging jobs to the state’s citizens over the next 10 years.

All they know is “Stalin!” and that renewable energy is “green stuff that some people believe in” like the way Peter Pan believed in reviving Tinkerbell (including that Communist bastion the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which ranked Ohio No. 5 in the number of green jobs in the country — but what do they know?).

I’m afraid that if this solar debate is any indication, they don’t have the ability to make good choices for president. Is there any way we can eliminate Ohio from the Electoral College before 2016?

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Written By

Chip Martin is an award-winning writer, scholarship-winning saxophone player and long-time solar advocate. As the industry grew exponentially, Martin decided to enter the fray on behalf of the solar industry. You can read him at CleanTechnica, Red, Green and Blue and Solar Wakeup, as he does his best to spread the solar gospel.


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