SB 52 - A missed opportunity

A Clean Energy Investment & Jobs Killer

See Ohio Citizen Action’s official statement on the passage of Senate Bill 52 here. 

Yet again, Ohio lawmakers had the opportunity to step out of the cloud of corruption that looms over them. Instead of creating any sort of comprehensive energy policy for our state, the state legislature chose to pass SB 52, to further deter renewable energy development in Ohio. SB 52 subjects renewable energy projects to a new layer of government regulation in addition to the state process not applied to any other source. On top of that, Ohio lawmakers also passed another bill that prohibits local officials from interfering with fossil fuel generation. SB 52 stands in the way of landowners who want to install solar and wind projects on their own land. This is the rare piece of legislation that brings together farmers, businesses, and environmental groups in opposition. With utter disregard for what Ohio consumers want, our state legislators are working to count Ohio out of the clean energy market. Now is the time for a diversified energy policy that works for all Ohioans.

SB 52 adds tremendous new political risk to energy infrastructure projects that will deter investors from providing the upfront capital needed to build projects. SB 52 acts as an effective moratorium on wind and solar energy production. In a clear double-standard, SB 52 ensures that this type of policy only impacts renewable energy projects in Ohio. 

Ohio Citizen Action strongly opposed SB 52. Here's why:

  • Anti-Economic Development: The market for solar and wind is creating great economic opportunity in rural Ohio, allowing landowners, school districts, and political subdivisions to share in a new prosperity. The state should not erect political barriers to these benefits.

  • Anti-Consumer: By artificially restricting supply, the bills drive up electricity costs. The legislation targets certain resources at the expense of a prudent, diversified portfolio.

  • Anti-Business: Ohio companies across sectors are increasingly choosing to obtain fixed-cost renewables. These bills dramatically hinder their ability to exercise energy choice, manage their energy costs, and take control of their energy future.

  • Anti-Certainty: The bills set a troublesome precedent whereby infrastructure projects are politicized, and will have a chilling effect on future projects of all kinds.

  • Retroactive: The legislation is written to apply to projects already pending at the Siting Board or pending for a local permit. Companies have spent millions of dollars to get to this point in good faith reliance on current law. SB 52 pulls the rug out from under them and may well violate the prohibition on ex post facto laws.

Under SB 52, County Commissioners have the authority to prohibit wind and solar development in their entire county. This could happen with a vote simply by a County Commission, which is often only composed of 3-5 officials. Seeing the possibility of the rug being pulled from under them, this renewable energy project –– and future projects like it –– will avoid Ohio altogether, leaving Ohio devoid of all those amazing benefits.

Find out how your representatives and senators voted on SB 52 here.

We urge you to call your legislators. Thank those representatives and senators who voted against SB 52, and express your displeasure with those who voted yes. 

Calling your legislators is one of the easiest and quickest ways to make an impact. To leave a telephone message for your state representative or senator. call Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Find out your legislators' phone numbers with The Ohio Legislator District Maps 


Senate Energy & Public Utilities Committee

Opponent Testimony on Senate Bill 52

Testimony of Melissa K. English, Deputy Director, Ohio Citizen Action

March 23, 2021

Chair Peterson, Vice-Chair Schuring, Ranking Member Williams, and Members of the Energy & Public Utilities Committee, my name is Melissa English and I’m the Deputy Director of Ohio Citizen Action. I thank you for the opportunity to present our opposition to Senate Bill 52.

I speak to you today on behalf of Ohio Citizen Action’s 32,000 members and all Ohio utility ratepayers who have a stake in the decision before you.

The market for solar and wind is creating great economic opportunity in all corners of Ohio. This allows for landowners, school districts, and political subdivisions in rural Ohio to also share in a prosperity that is often denied to these areas. The state should not use the legislative process to erect political barriers to these benefits through bills like Senate Bill 52.

By artificially restricting supply and requiring a referendum process at the local level for wind and solar projects, this legislation will drive up electricity costs and targets certain energy generation resources at the expense of a prudent, diversified portfolio. Many of our elected leaders like to tout their support for an all-of-the-above energy strategy. But Senate Bill 52 reflects the opposite of that philosophy by singling out clean energy generation sources and imposing a veritable moratorium on wind and solar development. We cannot have it both ways.

Ohio companies across all sectors are increasingly choosing to obtain fixed-cost renewable energy to power their operations. Senate Bill 52 dramatically hinders their ability to exercise energy choice, manage their energy costs, and take control of their energy future. This will only serve to dissuade these companies from staying in or relocating to Ohio. Many Fortune 500 companies are proud to have adopted both short and long-term renewable energy and sustainability goals. As you consider this legislation, remember that measures such as these raise a red flag to these large companies that Ohio is not ready to grow with them moving forward.

Finally, it is important to note that Senate Bill 52 is written to apply to projects that are already pending with Ohio’s Power Siting Board or for a local permit. Wind and solar development companies have in some cases spent millions of dollars to usher their projects through the process in good faith reliance on current law. Senate Bill 52 pulls the rug out from under these projects and provides absolutely no incentives to bring any future projects forward in Ohio.

We appreciate the opportunity to submit written testimony in opposition of Senate Bill 52 and ask that you instead consider what might be the best investment Ohio could make to improve air quality, save utility consumers money, and foster economic growth in all areas of the state. This may well be the last chance we get to do this right.