Pop quiz: where is the largest solar installation east of the Mississippi? Is it in a national solar leader like New Jersey? A warm and sunny state like Florida or North Carolina? A liberal bastion like Rhode Island or Massachusetts?
Actually (as you probably guessed from the title of this post), it’s a 12 MW facility Ohio that opened in 2010. And while other states are racing to catch up, Ohio is already moving ahead with a facility four times that large, which may be the largest in the entire US when it opens.
That’s not the only good news out of the buckeye state. In 2009, energy efficiency measures undertaken by Ohio’s major utilities saved enough energy to power 43,000 homes. The state now has solar facilities capable of producing enough electricity to power 2,400 homes. Wind energy is also booming, with several utilities signing long-term contracts for wind power in the past year.
Why is all this happening? It all goes back to 2008, when Ohio passed a Clean Energy Law that requires the state’s utilities to invest in clean energy resources. As our report Ohio’s Clean Energy Report Card details , that law has launched a flurry of activity in Ohio, and the state’s economy, health, and environment are benefiting.
Even with all this good news, Ohio is just getting started. Between the state’s solar, wind, and efficiency resources, Ohio has enough clean energy not just to power a few thousand homes, but to transform the state’s electricity system.
Getting there won’t be easy, and all of Ohio’s utilities will need to take on a leadership role. We examined their performance in this report, and found that a few utilities are leading the way, with a real commitment to clean energy, while the state’s largest utility, FirstEnergy, lags behind. Despite having more customers than any other utility, FirstEnergy actually did the least to develop efficiency resources in 2009.
Ohioans deserve better than that kind of heel-dragging performance. The benefits of a clean energy future are already appearing in Ohio. It’s time for all of Ohio’s utilities to get on board and start doing what they can to bring that future about.