Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Commentary - Ohio House Bill 1 & The Athens Solar Initiative

The following article is a response from Rural Action Member, Robin Kinney on the recent passage of Ohio House Bill 1 (HB1) and its relationship to the Athens Solar Initiative.

"The Athens Solar Initiative was, in part, the basis for legislation recently passed in the state of Ohio as HB 1. This legislation allows municipalities and townships to declare special energy improvement districts and provide financing for photovoltaic and solar-thermal systems. The loans are repaid through the owner's property tax assessment. The mechanism is creative, provides strong incentives for installation of such systems, and the officials of Athens should be commended for their good work and progressive thinking.

Cities in the state have the resources to undertake the endeavor defined in HB 1. Townships, however, may find it more difficult. Township trustees in Appalachian Ohio have their hands full just maintaining the roads and cemeteries and will find it difficult to justify the time and effort to select a special improvement district board of directors, determine the eligibility criteria for the loan, the maximum loan amount, the terms and interest rate of the loan and then to keep tabs on all of this to assure that it is functioning consistently with the best interest of the citizens of the township. The township trustees often do not have the means to hire administrative staff and grant writers either. In many cases it's the trustees themselves that you see on the mowing machines, dump trucks, and road graders after they've come home from their regular jobs.

I'm happy for the city of Athens and I'm proud to say that I live close by that great city but unless a creative solution can be found to administrate the special energy improvement district for the townships, HB 1 is of little benefit for rural Appalachian Ohio."

-Robin Kinney, Rural Action Member