Ohio to give wind, solar power grants for homes

OHIO - Ohio is taking another step in its attempt to turn the state into a hub for the renewable energy industry by offering grants to increase the use of solar and wind power.

The new program isn't big, but development officials say it will help an industry that could create thousands of jobs in Ohio.

The state says the $3.5 million program for residential projects will lead to 260 wind turbines and 200 solar hot water systems.

"It's a great building block," said Aaron Godwin, a renewable-energy consultant who also is on the board of Green Energy Ohio, which promotes renewable energy.

Gov. Ted Strickland has targeted advanced energy as a key to reviving the state's weak economy.

The Ohio Department of Development puts estimates for new wind power-related jobs in Ohio as high as 30,000. The solar power industry could create up to 8,000 jobs long-term.

Customers of FirstEnergy Corp., Duke Energy, American Electric Power and Dayton Power and Light Co. will be eligible for the wind and solar grants.

But installers — not homeowners — are being encouraged to apply for the wind power grants.

"We're trying for an umbrella effect," said Robert Grevey, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Development's energy office. "An installer could be servicing three to 10 turbine applications, instead of all 10 of those applying separately."

There also are limits on the grants for solar hot water systems.

Only apartment buildings or developments of 10 dwellings or more where water is heated by electricity will be eligible.

There are only a few solar hot water systems in Ohio, said Christina Panoska, energy policy and outreach manager for the Ohio Energy Office.

"Ohio could take a leadership role in solar-thermal. We want some really significant projects we can point to and get this underway," she said.

The systems move heat from a roof-top panel to a hot water tank, reducing demand for electricity.

Ohio's renewable energy incentives for residential markets have led to 17 solar hot-water projects, 31 wind turbines and 88 solar-electric installations in recent years.


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