Guest post by Eric Thumma, Director, Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Iberdrola Renewables, and conference chairman, AWEA Ohio Wind Energy Summit
I first started working on Ohio renewable energy policy sometime around 2005 when I was still energy director for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. I was invited to Columbus to meet with state officials and NGOs to talk about our success in enacting a renewable and alternative energy requirement in Pennsylvania in 2004. At the time, Ohio was a long way from what would eventually be a renewable and advanced energy law that would make it one of the leading states for renewable energy investment in the country. So, it is with great satisfaction, and with some nostalgia, that I’m very excited to return to Columbus on September 24 to help AWEA and my wind energy colleagues host the first-ever AWEA state wind energy conference.
Ohio is the perfect place for this initial state-focused conference. Over the next decade, Ohio’s renewable energy law will be a leading driver of wind energy demand in the region and nationally, deploying an estimated 5,000 MW of wind energy that will generate approximately $10 billion in new investment. This growth is exciting, and by itself a reason for the industry to convene in Columbus. But there are other reasons that make this conference important not just for those investing in Ohio, but for industry participants more generally.
Blue Creek Wind Farm, Van Wert County, Ohio
In many ways, Ohio represents a microcosm of the challenges and potential the industry faces nationally. It has a sound public policy framework with the renewable energy law and statewide siting, and a great mix of solid wind resources near lots of electricity consumption and transmission infrastructure, but the challenges the industry faces nationwide–renewable energy procurement (especially in competitive markets), wind farm siting, and new transmission investment–are resonant in Ohio as well. Solving these challenges in Ohio will not only enable the state to lure new investment and create more jobs, but can set a precedent for how to address these problems in other states.
My company, Iberdrola Renewables, invested directly in Ohio through our 304-megawatt Blue Creek wind farm. Recently, we have undertaken an exciting new partnership with Ohio State University. In addition to purchasing a quarter of its electricity needs from our Blue Creek Wind Farm at a lower cost than its current electricity supply, Ohio State is partnering with us on a cutting-edge data collection effort to better understand how to enhance wind energy production. It is these types of opportunities that I look forward to this conference exploring and fostering.
I invite you to join us in Columbus on September 24 for the AWEA Ohio Wind Energy Summit. We have an exciting set of participants representing all parts of the industry from the supply chain, to ancillary services, to developers. Many of Ohio’s public policy leaders will also be on hand. I have no doubt we can accomplish a great deal at this forum to advance the industry. I hope to see you there!
Photo credit: Iberdrola Renewables