Ohio cities and local governments can wield multiple tools to both mitigate and prepare for climate impacts. Tools such as community choice aggregation, climate action plans, and creative financing can increase clean energy opportunities at the local level.
Community Choice Aggregation was established in Ohio in 2000 as part of Ohio’s move to encourage electric choice in the state, and to help local governments secure lower electric rates for their residents through bulk purchasing power. In recent years, more and more communities have used community choice aggregation as an economic development tool, to grow local jobs in the clean energy sector. Ohio cities such as Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Athens, and Dayton, among others, have all used their community aggregation plans to help advance their community’s sustainability goals.
Energy Special Improvement Districts (ESIDs) & Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) are clean energy financing mechanisms that allow local governments to attract new renewable energy projects and investments in energy efficiency for businesses and government buildings. City councils can establish an ESID, and then allow low-cost loans to be taken out for renewable energy projects such as solar and small wind projects, or efficiency upgrades. The loan is paid back on the tax bill of the property rather than through a separate bill. Cities such as Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, and Toledo, among others, have partnered with their local port authorities to deploy ESIDs and PACE as a way to improve the efficiency of commercial buildings, develop new renewable energy locally, and bolster local jobs in their regions.
Solar cooperatives have formed across Ohio, and enable a group of neighbors to pool their buying power in order to get discounts on rooftop solar systems. Because they are self-governed, these community-based groups have tremendous flexibility in the values and objectives they build into their plans, such as requiring solar installers to use local contractors, to pay a living wage, or to use minority-owned subcontracting businesses.