On October 12, Ohio Representatives Brian Baldridge and Laura Lanese, both Republicans, introduced House bill 450 to allow communal solar energy in the territory of the Electricity Distribution Companies (EDUs). To date, community solar power is not available in EDU areas due to the inability for customers to participate in aggregated or virtual grid metering.
The legislation authorizes the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to certify up to 2,000 MW of community solar projects. PUCO can also certify an additional 1,000 MW of community solar project built solely on “distressed sites,” as long as most of these projects are in the Appalachian region.
In part, a “Community solar project” must meet the following requirements:
- The facility has at least three subscribers. No subscriber can have a proportional interest of more than 40% in the facility’s output, and at least 60% of the facility’s capacity must be subscribed to by subscriptions of 40 kW or less.
- Community solar projects must not have a nominal capacity of more than 10 MW unless the project is in a “distressed location”.
- Projects built on distressed sites can have a nominal capacity of up to 45 MW.
- The facility is located on one or more adjacent or adjacent lots and is not within a mile of solar installations under the control of the same entity.
- An EDU cannot operate a community solar project, but an affiliate company can operate the facility.
A “distressed site” means a contiguous parcel of land where the major part of the acreage consists of: 1) a brownfield as defined in RC 122.65; 2) within an area where an investor may receive a new market tax credit under section 45D of the Internal Revenue Code; and/or 3) a closed solid waste facility licensed by the environmental protection authority under RC 3734.02. In addition to the increased capacity listed above on the nameplate, community solar projects in distressed sites are eligible for grant awarded by the Ohio Department of Development from the brownfield remediation program under RC 122.6511 for costs related to construction and remediation.
A community solar project subscriber is eligible for grid metering under RC 4928.67. However, a subscriber’s share of a community solar project should not exceed 120% of their average annual electricity consumption.
The legislation requires the PUCO to issue rules within six months of the effective date of the legislation. The rules should establish a process by which applications for certification of solar projects are approved or rejected within 90 days, unless a good reason is demonstrated for not meeting the deadline. The rules should also establish a process to reasonably allow for the transfer and portability of subscriptions. The PUCO will also have to provide an annual report to the General Assembly with information on the number of projects and usage details.
News item from Bricker & Eckler Lawyers