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Demand for energy sources must be genuine

For decades now, lawmakers in other states have decried subsidies in places such as California that artificially propped up solar and other renewable energy sources. The argument was that if those energy sources could not succeed in the free market on their own merits, they shouldn’t be getting a leg up on natural gas, oil and coal.

It should follow, then, that legislation designed to give solar and other renewable energy sources an artificial disadvantage should be just as problematic. But Ohio lawmakers are considering both Senate Bill 52 and House Bill 118, which would create a referendum process on certificates for large wind and solar facilities, before they go before the Ohio Power Siting Board.

Though the pretense is that such a measure is a good thing because it would place decision-making in the hands of the communities, the reality is it puts an obstacle in front of solar or wind power companies that is not placed before most other private employers in Ohio.

“If this legislation was passed, it would almost certainly result in … investment leaving the state of Ohio for surrounding states,” Mark Walter, director of legislative and regulatory affairs for solar developer Savion, told another media outlet. “It would be challenging to convince companies to come to Ohio to develop solar projects.”

Indeed. If it takes a manufactured challenge to the industry to keep solar and other renewable projects from making headway in the Buckeye State, perhaps lawmakers should refocus their efforts. It would be far better to be part of a transition that helps both employers and Ohio’s workers than to attempt to halt change altogether.

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