OSU Extension Bulletin by zrn32253


									                     DRAFT: IN PEER REVIEW
                                         ‘Extension Bulletin
                  Title: Renewable Energy as an Economic Development Strategy for
                                Small Towns and Rural Areas in Ohio

                                           Table of Contents

I. Introduction                                                                       2

II. What is renewable energy
        A. Definition of terms                                                       3
        B. Renewable energy drivers and their impact                                 4

III. Preparing the community
         A. Develop a community consensus vision                                     7
         B. Educate community                                                        8
         C. Identify benefits and concerns                                           8
         D. Community planning for renewable energy                                  9

IV. Internal community assessment
         A. General location requirements                                            10
         B. Specific requirements by type of renewable                               11
         C. Develop a strategy for renewable energy recruitment and development      15

V. Federal, state and local support available for renewable energy projects
       A. Resources available from the federal government                            18
       B. Resources available from the state of Ohio                                 19
       C. Resources available in local communities                                   21

VI. Conclusion                                                                       22

Bibliography                                                                         24
Web sites                                                                            25
Renewable energy resource maps                                                       28

I.       Introduction:

Many small towns and rural areas with economies anchored in traditional manufacturing and agriculture
are beginning to consider renewable energy and green industry as a possible strategy to provide a more
diversified, future focused economic base. With careful thought and consideration, renewable energy
production and the attraction or development of renewable energy industries can be one of the many
economic development strategies chosen by a community.

The future of renewable energy is bright. Ever increasing demand for energy, and the need to decrease
dependency on fossil fuels in addition to global environmental concerns are driving the development of
renewables. Federal and state governmental support and legislation is beginning to provide incentives
and impose requirements that will incentivize the development of renewable energy. Since the passage
in 2008 of Ohio Senate Bill 221 mandating advanced and renewable energy, rural communities in our
state have additional leverage in targeting renewable projects that add value to or benefit their local
economies. This landmark bill establishes benchmarks that Ohio utility companies must meet, including
the generation of a substantial percentage of their electricity from renewables. Ohio communities now
have the opportunity to determine if renewable energy is an approach acceptable to residents, and
assess if they have the assets and resources needed to engage in the economic development strategy of
attracting and developing renewable energy enterprises.

The purpose of this bulletin is to help rural Ohio communities assess their suitability for renewable
energy industry development by:
1.       Building understanding of renewable energy development, including market demands,
         advantages and cautions when pursuing a renewable-based economic growth strategy,
2.       Providing information about the type of renewable energy production that is feasible in the
         State of Ohio
3.       Identifying the steps that should be considered in implementing a renewable energy based
         economic development strategies in rural Ohio communities, and
4.       Identifying assistance and supportive legislation available in at the state and federal level.
The focus of this bulletin is on “generation scale” renewable energy production, that is, industries
that make a profit by producing renewable energy to sell commercially to other users. It is important
also to recognize the benefits of small scale, on site renewable energy production as well as the critical
contribution of conservation initiatives to reduce overall energy demand. This bulletin’s focus, however,
is intended for community leaders and economic developers who are involved in helping their

community determine the feasibility of attracting or developing alternative energy producers as a key
component of their community’s economic development program.

One word of caution for communities. It is important to recognize that renewable energy development
is still an emerging industry with new technologies and different market pressures and opportunities still
to come. Recently developed government incentives and policies are just now being implemented and
tested. Private sector investment is just beginning to come back into the picture as we begin to slowly
emerge from the recession. The timing of the take off is difficult to predict, but most analysts do believe
that alternative energy will be one of America’s great new growth industries. Community positioning for
this take off will involve a great deal of work and commitment of time. So, now may be a good time for
communities to seriously consider this approach in order to be positioned for their future development.

II.       What is Renewable Energy?

A. Definition of Terms

The United States Department of Agriculture-Rural Development defines renewable energy as
“…energy created by using rapidly and naturally replenished sources.” USDA goes on to say that
“renewable energy is, in a practical sense, defined by its ability to reduce dependence on carbon-based
sources of energy, including oil, natural gas, and coal” (Holles, 2009). The major sources of renewable
energy include solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, biomass/bioenergy, wind and tidal activity. This
bulletin will focus on biofuels, biomass, wind and solar because these appear, given today’s technology,
to be the most feasible renewable energy sources for Ohio’s rural communities.

As defined by the Ohio Revised Code (Section 4928.64), alternative energy resources include both
advanced energy resources and renewable energy resources. Advanced energy resources are defined as
any method, modification, or replacement of equipment that increases the electric generation output of
an existing facility without increasing the carbon dioxide emissions of that facility. Renewable energy
resources are defined as energy created by using rapidly and naturally replenished sources which are
virtually inexhaustible. Examples of renewable energy resources include but are not limited to: wind,
solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, ethanol and biodiesel.

      Wind:
Although there are roughly 2700 components in a commercial wind turbine, the fundamental idea
behind wind generation is really quite simple - as the wind blows it turns blades, these blades then turn
a generator which in turn produces electricity. Today's wind turbines are technically sophisticated as
research and development has identified advanced materials, new electrical controls, and designs
making them more efficient. Wind now accounts for 1.3% of the nation’s electricity, and the industry
plans to produce 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030. U.S. sales are projected to reach $35 billion a year in a
few years. The major challenge to the widespread use of wind generated power is getting the electricity
to major cities where the demand exists from the remote wind farms in rural areas where the electricity
is produced. This will require major investments in infrastructure to expand the nation’s electrical grid.

(American Wind Energy Association, 2009) Also, wind power is constrained by resource availability;
wind resources are intermittent because wind speeds change. Also, siting choices have generated
discussions regarding the impact wind turbines upon wildlife and habitat.

     Solar:
Solar energy is the least resource constrained of all forms of renewables, offering a virtually unlimited
source of power. Solar power is currently produced by two major methods: 1. Sunlight can be
harnessed to generate steam by using mirrors concentrating sunlight to turn engines, heat oil or focus
solar energy on a tower receiver, or 2. Sunlight can be converted directly into electric current using
photovoltaic (PV) panels consisting of silicon semiconductors. There are advantages and disadvantages
to each production approach. PV solar energy systems can be installed anywhere the sun shines, such
as roof tops or parking lots, so energy generation and use can occur in close proximity (Komor, 2004).
However, PV systems convert a smaller percentage of sunlight into energy and are more expensive than
steam generation options. A disadvantage of steam generation is that it requires large tracts of land for
the installation of mirrors, typically locating in less populated areas. This remoteness requires expensive
energy transmission systems to bring power from where it is produced to where it is needed. Finally,
both steam generation and PV systems face one critical problem – the difficulty in storing solar energy
for use on cloudy days or at night (National Geographic, 2009). With technological advances to address
these challenges and increase efficiencies, it is projected that solar could provide 10% of the nation’s
electricity by 2025. By 2018, sales worldwide could grow to $81 billion. However, solar energy will not
be cost-effective with other forms of energy until 2015, so it must currently rely heavily on subsidies.
Also, as with wind power, future growth in the solar industry is dependent upon the development of
nationwide power grids, requiring billions in infrastructure investments (Kiplingers, 2009).

     Biofuels:
Biomass energy refers to the burning of biologically produced materials such as wood chips, leaves,
agricultural crop residue, sewage sludge, agricultural livestock waste, and food processing waste.
Biomass fuels used for commercial scale energy production must be available in sizeable quantities. The
conversion of biomass fuels into electricity is similar to the process typically used with coal power
plants. Biomass fuels are burned in a giant boiler. The heat turns water into steam that is used to drive a
generator which produces electricity (Komor, 2004). The biofuel industry is estimated to grow by some
analysts more than $80 billion worldwide by 2017, and breakthroughs on the horizon promise to expand
the use of many other biofuel sources in addition to sugar and corn. Criticisms center around the
increased demand biofuels place on food sources, resulting in higher prices for consumers. Also,
biofuels do little to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a major disadvantage of biofuels in comparison to
wind and solar (Kiplinger’s Biofuels Market Alert, 2009).

B. Renewable Energy Development Drivers and Their Impact

The three main drivers for development of renewable energy projects are: 1. increased energy demand,
2. increased focus on alternative energy solutions and policies that support these solutions, and 3.

environmental concerns that promote increased use of renewables and decreased dependence on fossil

1. Increased energy demand:

“At present, the world’s population consumes about 15 terawatts of power. That translates into a
business worth $6 trillion a year- about a tenth of the world’s economic output…by 2050, power
consumption is likely to have risen to 30 terawatts” (The Power and the Glory, The Economist, June 21,
2008). Global demand for renewable energy will be directly related to large scale population growth
trends in emerging economies, such as China, that will be seeking out alternative sources of energy to
support growth trends and fuel economic development. By 2050, population is expected to grow from
6.8 billion to 9.3 billion, an increase of 36%. At this rate, consumer and industrial consumption will put
an undo strain on existing energy resources. It is expected that renewable, energy sources will be
further developed and depended upon to satisfy this demand.

2. Increased focus on renewable energy solutions

In 2006, 18.3 percent of the world's electricity was produced using renewable sources. By 2030, this will
rise to 23.3 percent as technology gets cheaper and fossil fuels remain expensive. Currently in
the United States, renewable resources constitute around 7% of all energy production, and 12% of all
electricity production. Eight percent of U.S. electricity needs are produced by hydroelectric sources
alone. At the current rate of investment, renewable electricity will continue to grow at a rate of 1.8%
per year through the year 2010. By 2025, energy industry
experts predict that the U.S. could effectively double its use
                                                                      "Ohio is working to become a national
of renewables as a portion of its electrical output
                                                                       and international leader in advanced
(International Energy Agency Economist, November 2008).
                                                                   energy initiatives; we want our advanced
                                                                    energy industry to have a global reach
More than half of the states in the U.S. now have
“renewable portfolio standards” (RPS) which require that             and a world-class supply chain. It is

electric utilities supply a certain amount of energy they           estimated that nearly 551,000 workers

produce from renewable sources by 2030. While some                  in Ohio could see new job opportunities

states’ RPS policies are more aggressive than others                and wage increases from the growth of

(Climate Prosperity Handbook, International Economic                environmentally friendly industries. In

Development Council, 2009), the U.S. Department of                     addition, Ohio’s long history as a
Energy predicts that renewable energy use will increase by           manufacturing leader shows that we
over 100 billion kilowatt-hours if these standards are met           have the workforce and expertise to
(National Geographic, 2009).                                        succeed in the evolving manufacturing
                                                                      sector (Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland)."
3. Environmental concerns

Concerns surrounding global climate change and the

impact of increasing CO2 emissions upon global warming trends are pushing the development of clean,
renewable sources of energy to replace fossil fuels. After years of debate, the world has reached the
strong science-based consensus that the world’s climate is changing, and that global warming is created
by human activity and the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. According to the Pew
Center for Global Climate Change “One of the most significant challenges in addressing global climate
change is reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from the use of coal.” Pew offers the
following facts:
      Coal use, primarily for the generation of electricity, now accounts for roughly 20 percent of
        global GHG emissions.
       Rising energy demand will continue to drive up coal consumption, particularly in countries
        with large reserves such as the United States, China and India.
       50 percent of the electricity generated in the United States is from coal.
       The United States produces close to 2 billion tons of CO2 per year from coal-burning power
       GHG emissions from coal-fired electricity, now 27 percent of total U.S. emissions, are
        projected to grow by a third by 2025” (Coal Climate Change Facts, 2007).
By continuing to pursue clean coal technology advances and continuing to substitute energy
produced by fossil fuels with energy produced by wind and solar, greenhouse gasses can be reduced
even as the worldwide demand for energy increases.

As a result of the three drivers, increased energy demand, increased use of renewable sources for
energy production, and environmental concerns, the number of renewable energy projects has been
increasing dramatically in the US. Between 2006 - 2008 (last full year reported), the percentage increase
in the number of projects was almost 160%. Between 2003 and 2009, fDi Markets recorded a total of
212 renewable energy investment projects in the United States which created a total of 4906 jobs.

    Figure 1: U. S.Renewable
         Energy Projects
               # of   Percentage
             Projects Growth
   2003         4
   2004         3        -25.0%
   2005         4         33.3%
   2006         17      325.0%
   2007         44      158.8%
   2008        107      143.2%
   2009         33         n/a
    Source: FDI Intelligence from

        Financial Times Ltd            As for Ohio, certain factors and assets contribute to a potentially
                                       strong role in the initiation of renewable energy strategies. Ohio’s
economy already has a strong presence in energy and power generation and consumption. Also, the
state's industrial and research infrastructure offers a strong platform for growth in renewable energy
sources. As a result, communities in Ohio have an opportunity to build on existing state assets, much
easier than if starting from zero. Other factors, such as the availability of capital and technological
advances, point to Ohio’s readiness for economic development based on green industry. The state has
seen growth in venture capital investment in clean technology and is ranked 6th in the U.S. for green
patent registrations. While the venture capital investment in Ohio is focused in the thin-film solar
industry, the state also has strength in hybrid systems, advanced batteries and fuel cell technology
(Climate Prosperity Handbook, International Economic Development Council, 2009).

III.       Preparing the Community

Preparing your community for renewable energy as an economic development strategy is the first step
to take well before the first project is considered. Potential conflicts can be minimized by engaging
citizens in reaching a consensus vision. With a vision that balances a community’s environmental, social
and economic values, a sustainable approach to economic and community development can be

Community residents will have many questions about renewable energy projects, some related to the
industry attraction process and some specifically targeted to the type of renewable project under
consideration. At the same time, Industry prospects require that community leaders maintain
confidentiality during the process of negotiation and site location. It can be difficult for community
leaders to publically talk or answer questions about a project until the industry gives its approval to do
so. Uncertainty and rumors can build resident’s concerns while local leaders are unable to directly
address fears without jeopardizing the entire project. By preparing the community beforehand for this
type of development, concerns can be addressed upfront and conflict kept to a minimum.

Community leaders must understand their resident’s environmental and social concerns as well as
economic ones, and work toward finding balance between all three. Anticipating the types of questions
and concerns that will arise and being prepared to answer them honestly and openly will build the
community’s confidence. In any planning process, the time spent at the front end engaging and
informing residents will shorten the time needed to sell the plan, leading to quicker implementation and

A. Develop a Community Consensus Vision

Renewable energy has the potential to create a convergence of economic and environmental interests
and to address social concerns if sensitivity to all three interest areas can be balanced. Therefore, the
first step in sustainable planning for renewable energy is to arrive at a community consensus vision that
embraces this approach as an acceptable and desirable strategy. By outreach to all sectors of the

community, going to where community residents gather, the pursuit of economic development that
includes renewable energy as a component can be discussed and considered. Inclusion is a cornerstone
of sustainable visioning. Making sure to reach all sectors of the community and allowing each to help
set the vision, will result in a sustainable plan. For more information about developing a community
consensus vision, visit Ohio State University Extension’s Sustainable Initiatives web site at:

B. Educate community

 Incorporating community education about renewable
energy into the process of creating a vision can set the
stage for a general discussion of the value of this type of
community economic development approach. Discussions
around what it means to be a sustainable community, and
how renewable energy production can help to balance
economic and environmental goals while pursuing social
benefits should be incorporated into the community
education process. Renewable energy, as an emerging
industry, is unfamiliar to many local community residents.
Possible misconceptions can be identified and addressed
through education.

C. Identify Benefits and Address Concerns

Because renewable energy production is an emerging
industry in the U.S., it still raises many unanswered
questions. What economic impact in terms of jobs and
tax revenues will the local community realize? What environmental impacts will the siting of large scale
solar or wind operations have on our wildlife, migrating birds and habitat health? How can our children
and their families benefit from the new opportunities available through green industry growth?
Community leaders must be aware of these concerns and be prepared to address issues openly and
honestly. They must also be prepared to consider alternatives if decisions would seem to negatively
impact upon the environment or social makeup of the community. Finally, they must be willing to
conduct a careful, deliberate analysis of siting options in the context of environmental considerations.

 The positive economic impact of renewable energy development in Ohio is already substantial. As a
whole, renewable energy projects are currently among rural Ohio’s top employers. AllBusiness, a Dun &
Bradstreet company, has profiles of 404 companies in renewable energy within Ohio. In total, these
companies have estimated annual sales of approximately $52 billion and employ an estimated 22,837
people. The industry generates millions of dollars a year in taxes to state and federal governments,

         generating tax dollars to support local schools and government services, and helping to support needed
         infrastructure improvements for communities. For instance, a 200 megawatt wind farm can generate $2
         million or more annually in property tax revenues, with the majority of the increased tax paid on the
         wind turbines. Renewable projects buy millions of dollars of goods and services annually from other
         local businesses. Finally, they can help to locally anchor a larger strategy of attraction and development
         of new green industries.

         There are certain drawbacks for each type of renewable energy approach. Environmental concerns
         from wind power projects include the danger of building wind generators in bird migration corridors and
         nesting grasslands, and the impact this development can have on bird, bat and other wildlife
         populations. Solar projects can take large tracks of desirable farmland out of production. Biofuel
         production requires substantial inputs such as corn, which can increase the demand and cost of food.
         Bioenergy does little to reduce greenhouse gasses as compared with wind and solar generated
         renewable energy. It is critically important that the concerns of local residents must be identified and
         addressed through consistent, science based information, and that ample opportunities for residents to
         express and discuss their concerns are provided.

         D. Community Planning for Renewable Energy

         Once the community determines that renewable energy development is an appropriate and suitable
         strategy that supports the community's long range consensus vision, the development of a community
         strategic plan is the next step. Effective planning can be accomplished by beginning with the end in
         mind, that is, the community's vision, and then working backwards in sequence to long term,
         intermediate and short-term outcomes/goals that will lead to this vision, then finally to strategies that
         will accomplish outcomes. The community assessment, profile and related data gathering should not
         take place until after the vision is formulated so that the planning process will not be constricted by
         what is possible and what is not. However, there will be certain constraints that will send the
         community in the direction of one type of renewable as opposed to another. An analysis of what the
         industry needs that the community does not have, and the cost of addressing this gap, will take place
         while gathering data for the strategic plan.

         The ongoing evaluation and monitoring of the plan is critical so that the community will know if they are
         reaching their goals. In order to evaluate and monitor success, indicators or metrics should be
         developed for intermediate outcomes and success measures should be developed for short-term
         outcomes. This process will look as follows:

                                              Strategic Planning using the Logic Chain
Strategy                     ←Short Term Outcomes          ←Intermediate Outcomes                 ←Long Term Outcomes
                             (STOs)                        (IOs)                                  (LTOs)
Step Four: Formulate         Step Three: Identify specific   Step Two: Focus on key issues &      Step One: Begin planning here with
specific actions that will   factors that contribute to or   situations that need to be changed   articulation of long term vision and
accomplish STOs              impact on IOs                   in order to reach LTOs/Goals         resulting LTOs/Goals

Strategy Examples: 1.      STO Example:                          IO Examples:                           Vision Example: Our community is
Partner with local         1. Increase # of residents            1. Increase public awareness &         sustainable, balancing environmental,
schools to co-host         attending educational sessions        support for renewable energy           social and economic considerations for
educational sessions       2. Increase job training programs     2. Increase number of jobs available   future generations
with school events         in the green sector                   through the green industry             Goal: Our community promotes
 2. Implement a                                                                                         economic vitality and a clean
program to identify and                                                                                 environment through renewable energy
attract solar energy                                                                                    production
Follow up Actions          Success Measures                      Indicators                             Follow up Actions
Develop Action Plans       Tool to measure the degree of         Tool to measure progress toward        Conduct internal community
for each strategy that     change you would like to see:         meeting IOs:                           assessment, data collection and analysis
will specify who will do   # of adults participating in          % increase in awareness & support
what by when and what      educational sessions                  of renewable energy by adult
resources are needed       # of residents having skills in the   population in community
                           green job sector                      # of green jobs

         IV.         Internal Community Assessment

        Not all types of renewable energy will be suitable for a specific community, and some communities
        might not be appropriate for any of these alternative fuel generation projects. The identification of
        general requirements is important to first determine if renewables even present a feasible economic
        development strategy. If this step determines that renewables are right for your community, the next
        step is to identify more specific requirements that apply to each type of renewable.

        A. General Location Requirements

        Renewable projects have a set of location criteria that are common to most projects and must be taken
        into account when assessing a community’s and site’s suitability. Because most projects involve
        significant capital investment and because there is an extensive environmental permitting process, the
        typical project entails a much longer time for development than is the case with other types of industry
        development. A minimum amount of time from initial interest to operation is two years, but a typical
        project can take up to five years or longer from start to finish. At the local level, most projects involve
        land use and zoning issues that need to be resolved and can also contribute to a lengthy development

        General location considerations include:
         Community support: level of community understanding and support
         Land: large tracts of land, flat or gently rolling, that can accommodate the project
         Accessible power grid: transmission and distribution lines and substations must have sufficient
          capacity to handle the anticipated energy generation and provide access from production to market
         Basic transportation and utility infrastructure: site should have nearby sewer, water, power, other
          infrastructure needed to accommodate production and provide transportation for raw materials
         Land use policies: conducive to development of generation scale renewable energy projects

 Absence of environmental barriers: the availability of sites that have undergone scrutiny regarding
  environmental impacts and are found to be suitable

Another common feature of renewable energy projects is the number and variety of players involved in
the project. This includes landowners, utilities or other end user that would buy the energy commodity
as well as public and elected officials at many levels of government. The extensive involvement of so
many entities and individuals increases the need for community engagement in project planning and

Transportation infrastructure, proximity to electrical grids and sewer, and site locations away from
sensitive ecological areas are all important siting considerations. By looking at the possible opportunity
cost of developing a parcel of land—including all other possible uses of the land—communities will
usually find that the renewable energy project is a strong investment option. However, environmental
and social impacts must also be brought into the assessment equation so that economic considerations
do not overshadow other considerations.

B. Specific Requirements by Type of Renewable

Specific Wind Requirements:

Not all locations make sense for wind farms. Only locations with strong winds and near power
transmission options, are economically feasible. Land should be of sufficient acreage. Wind farm siting
can be highly controversial, particularly when sites are picturesque or environmentally sensitive, such as
having substantial bird life, or requiring roads to be built through pristine areas (Wikipedia). At a
minimum, the appropriate site will include the following:

1. Wind speed
An ideal location has sustained, non-turbulent wind speeds of 10 mph or greater. Wind farm sites are
typically preselected using a wind atlas. Once potential sites are identified, local winds are monitored
for a year or more before wind turbines are constructed. Data is collected using meteorological towers
that determine wind speed, direction and variances. Wind Power Density (WPD) is the yardstick used to
select locations for wind energy development. See Renewable Energy maps in Appendix.
2. Access to interconnectivity and distribution
One of the most important factors in turbine siting is access to interconnectivity options allowing the
delivery of energy produced to the end consumer. This includes transmission and distribution lines and
substations. According to the Texas Department of Energy, the greatest challenge facing the wind
industry is that wind farms can be built more quickly than transmission lines. Wind developers are
reluctant to build where transmission lines do not yet exist or where capacity is weak because of this
3. Land area
At least two acres of land is needed for each wind turbine and with most farms being built today, a
minimum of 50 turbines are constructed, requiring a total land mass of 100 acres. In addition to the
acreage needed to site the turbines, sufficient land is needed to adequately space the turbines to allow
for a distance of three to five rotor diameters apart to avoid interference. This interference is known as
the “wind park effect” which refers to the loss of output.
4. Environmental factors
Danger to birds and bats has been a concern in siting wind farms. Locations in flyways, nesting areas or
migratory paths should be avoided.

Specific Solar Requirements:

Solar generation facilities have a large footprint, as it takes 10 acres of land to generate 1 megawatt of
power. As a result, project proposals should seek large tracts of land that are flat (less than 2% grade),
offer good soil with little rock, have no shading obstructions, and are close to interconnectivity
infrastructure. When addressing specific requirements in regards to solar generation projects most of
them are cost driven. While many of these requirements can be addressed by excavation, clearing
trees, and adding electrical infrastructure, they dramatically raise the overall cost of the project.
Because cost is a major overall weakness of solar projects and developers will have a number of
potential sites to choose from, it is vital to consider these specific requirements to reduce cost
whenever possible.

1. Shading
When designing the layout of a solar generation facility, engineers will often determine the height of the
tallest tree and double it. That distance will serve as the minimum setback distance required from any
existing tree line. Trees and other shade obstructions equal unusable land to the developer which will
unnecessarily add to the overall project cost.
2. Topographic conditions
Topographic layout is an important factor in solar projects. While a 2% to 6% grade is acceptable, any
slope must be facing to the south. Proposed sites with slopes facing to the north will not be considered
for selection. A flat site is a great advantage to the proposal as it will optimize the use of the land. The
less topographic grade, the closer the panel rows can be placed to one another without causing a
shading condition. If there is a grade in the topographic layout the panels will have to be placed further
apart, increasing the amount of land needed for the project’s target capacity. USGS has topo maps for
all areas of the United States that will show site contours and slopes. The link to the USGS Store is:
3. Soil types
After identifying a potential tract of land, soil samples should be taken to determine if it is suitable for
the setting of the solar panel support posts. When analyzing soils it is best to have a soil that is not too
hard, yet not too soft. Rocky soils are not preferred as it complicates the construction process. Some
good soil types are Fitchville, Lauray, and Milford. In many cases the proposed sites are located on
agricultural land that has a systematic field tile. If this is the case identifying the layout of this tile will
help the developer in the planning stage. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources maintains soils
maps for all of Ohio’s 88 counties. The link for further information is:
5. Interconnectivity options
Ultimately it will be up to the utility and the project design group engineers as to how and where they
will tie the generated power back onto the power grid. However, taking existing infrastructure into
consideration when identifying potential sites will better position your community’s proposal over a
competing site. It would be advantageous to identify all of the interconnectivity options in your
community. Once again, where the power goes is up to the project design group. Nevertheless by
identifying the location of these infrastructures in relation to the proposed sites will prove to be
advantageous when the developer is reviewing your proposal. As a result of post 9-11 security
considerations, It is recommended that you work closely with your local utility provider to assess
potential interconnectivity options.

As mentioned earlier one of the main drawbacks of solar energy is a high cost per kWH compared to
other energy sources. As a result it is imperative to identify sites that have a good grid connectivity
options, flat topographic layout, no shading obstructions, and proper soil conditions. By embracing the
community visioning and preplanning process your community can better position itself to attract a
renewable energy project.

Biomass Specific Requirements:

Specific requirements of biomass technologies are not linked to one particular type of resource making
them much more ambiguous than other renewable technologies. However unlike wind and solar
energy, biomass energy is dispatchable meaning it can be turned on or off depending on the consumer
demand. As with other renewable projects, specific requirements effecting biomass technology are
extremely cost sensitive. While many of the specific siting requirements can be altered to meet the
requirements of a project proposal, they can dramatically raise the overall cost of the project. It is vital
to consider the specific requirements to reduce cost whenever possible. At a minimum, the site should

1. Available biomass
As mentioned earlier biomass fuel can come from a multitude of resources such as trees, plants,
woodchips, animal waste, and crop waste. However, when considering biomass energy for commercial
scale production it is imperative the project development contract enough acreage/capacity for the
desired type of feedstock (biomass fuel) in order to produce an adequate volume of fuel for profitable
2. Transportation Infrastructure
Renewable biomass plants require excellent transportation infrastructure to reduce overall in-bound
and out-bound transportation costs. While many biomass fuels are often considered waste,
transporting the material can add cost to the fuel impacting the operations profitability. During the
proposal planning stages it is advantageous for a community to identify a transportation route that
provides direct access to a four-lane limited access highway. In determining this route you should
consider safety, wear and tear on local roads, and impact on existing traffic patterns to reduce concerns
of the residents. While it is important to have highway access, perhaps the best mode of transporting
biomass materials is via direct rail spur access. Rail transportation reduces both costs, increases
capacity, and reduces the burden on local roads. Locating biomass facilities in a close proximity to the
biomass fuel is very appealing to project developers, again because a close proximity can dramatically
reduce transportation costs.
 3. Water
Biomass facilities are not self sustaining, meaning there operation is dependent on onsite manual labor.
As a result there is a demand for existing water and sewer infrastructure to be located at the proposed
site. Burning biomass materials can produce an unpleasant emission, creating community concerns.
Therefore, the best location for biomass facilities is in an Industrial park which has existing utility
infrastructure and is often segregated from residential developments.
4. Interconnectivity options
One of the most important factors in facility location is access to interconnectivity options allowing the
delivery of energy produced to the end consumer. This includes transmission and distribution lines and

C. Develop a Strategy for Renewable Energy Recruitment and Development

Communities are identifying new sectors and trends, such as renewable energy, to create jobs in the
emerging knowledge-based green economy. Facing shrinking manufacturing employment, communities
are more focused than ever on the targeted recruitment of growth industries, including renewable
energy. Communities also recognize that renewable energy projects buy millions of dollars of goods and
services annually, most from other local businesses. They help to attract other businesses and are a
major fuel source for the rural economic engine.

Once communities have identified whether they are a suitable location for renewable energy projects
based on infrastructure and environmental constraints and community support, they need to develop a
strategy to recruit these types of projects. The first step is to identify what factors set their community
apart. Since competition is becoming more intense for renewable projects, the recruitment plan should
start by defining the community's competitive advantage based on the needs of the targeted project.

An example might be a skilled workforce displaced by a departing manufacturer, or a large block of
landowners who have agreed to lease their land for a renewable project. Demonstration of community
support in the form of a support resolution or commitment letter is another important factor that could
set the community apart from the competition. Evidence of environmental assessments and analyses
that support the community’s suitability as a location can also identify a proactive stance. No matter
what the unique sales proposition might be, the community should express a desire for location of
renewable projects and demonstrate that they have carefully considered the impacts. Aside from

necessary infrastructure and location advantages, community support alone is the primary reason why
renewable energy projects locate where they do.

Once the community has identified which type(s) of renewable project would be the best fit for the
community a list of specific companies can then be identified and contacted by the community
leadership. Before making contact, the community should research the targeted companies in detail
including contact information, company trends, philosophy, existing locations and other key facts. This
information is critical when communicating with the company about their needs and to request a site
visit. Your Ohio Department of Development Regional Director (www.odod.state.oh.us) and utility
representatives can be a good source of information and contacts regarding the identification of

The community should consider the process of selection when embarking on a recruitment strategy.
The process involves three stages beginning with the initial site visit through the final step, which is
making the company's short list of sites. Once the community has made the short list, a decision has
little to do with anything the community has control over. This three stage process is further defined
below. A project may decide against the community at this final stage simply because the site is slightly
less attractive (for whatever reason) than its' competition. For additional information on industrial
recruitment, see the OSU Fact sheet on Industry Recruitment at: http://ohioline.osu.edu/cd-

Stage I: Establish communications with potential project
Because of site specific needs, these types of projects may or may not be in contact with the community
early in the site selection process to gather specific information on sites, utilities and landowners.
During this first stage, the prospective company has most likely already done the basic due diligence to
become familiar with the community and decide whether there is a potential for locating a project. The
prospect will contact the community to determine whether the residents would be supportive of this
type of project. All information requested should be sent immediately in the specific mode and format
requested. Do not send any additional items at this time, including videos or special marketing
materials. Requests at this stage are usually associated with making it to a short list of sites.

Stage II: Intermediate Prospect Response
At this point, the community is still one of many candidates but much more in-depth information is
needed as the company is narrowing down locations and making a final decision on which sites to
prioritize. They will want very specific information about sites, including environmental information and
may require landowner options. A financial incentives package will also need to be put together at this
point. At this stage, the prospect is making a decision on a few standout locations. The speed, accuracy
and ease of information and in dealing with the community will be critical at this stage.

Stage III: Making the Short List
 The prospect has all the information they need to make a decision and has narrowed down the
locations to just a few. They have been meeting with key individuals but will now want
to schedule a visit get to know the community better. They will want to meet with community
leaders, area businesses and the public. The prospect visit requires extensive preparation on where to
go, who to talk to and how the visit will “flow”. The economic development professional will put
together an itinerary and have one or more planning meetings with all the “players”. The itinerary,
contact numbers and any follow-up information should be included in a packet for the prospect. After
the visit, there will be extensive follow-up to ensure there is a match for the community and
project. Once the prospect has made a final decision on where to locate a renewable project, the
economic development professional in coordination with permitting agencies and other partners, will
continue to work with the prospect to remove barriers and facilitate the project from start to finish.
From decision to operation, this process can be time consuming.

V. Federal, State and Local Support Available for Renewable Energy Projects

On March 19th, 2009 president Obama said, "So we have a choice to make. We can remain one of the
world's leading importers of foreign oil, or we can make the investments that would allow us to become
the world's leading exporter of renewable energy. We can let climate change continue to go unchecked,
or we can help stop it. We can let the jobs of tomorrow be created abroad, or we can create those jobs
right here in America and lay the foundation for lasting prosperity." This statement summarizes the
vision of leadership in the United States and alludes to a fundamental change in our existing
infrastructure. When analyzing state and federal policies established by our political leadership, it is
evident that renewable energies will be a vital component of our future.

A. Resources Available from the Federal Government

     America Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) is an economic stimulus package enacted
by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on February 17,
2009. Anticipated outcomes from the ARRA are the creation of new jobs in the renewable energy
industry, fostering advanced energy research and development, promoting energy efficiency, and
reducing our dependency on foreign oil. The ARRA included more than $60 billion in clean energy
investments that will strengthen our economy and establish clean energy jobs. These monies will be
allocated for projects such as developing a smart grid to transmit renewable energies from rural
generation sites to cities for consumption, implementing smart meters on residential homes, home
winterization projects, development of green buildings, renewable energy workforce training programs,
and competitive grants for renewable energy research and development.

As a result of the ARRA (H.R. 1) being signed into law, the production tax credits (PTC) and investment
tax credits (ITC) programs were extended by three years through 2013.

Production tax credits (PTC) hold significant value to renewable energy producers and have been vital to
the growth of the renewable energy sector. Essentially this program will provide a maximum of 2.1-cent
per kilowatt-hour (kWh) benefit for the first ten years of a renewable energy facility's
operation. However, it is important to recognize PTC’s are a corporate tax credit and do not apply to
residential renewable energy projects.

In addition, project developers can choose to receive a 30% investment tax credit (ITC) in place of the
PTC for facilities placed in service in 2009 and 2010, and also for facilities placed in service before 2013 if
construction begins before the end of 2010. In general, projects that meet eligibility criteria for the
energy property investment tax credit (ITC) can be converted to a grant from the Department of
Treasury. A person receiving a grant for specified energy property may not claim either the investment
tax credit or the renewable energy production tax credit with respect to the same property. Questions
regarding these grants may be submitted to the U.S. Department of Treasury.

    Other Federal Government Programs
Federal grants, loans and tax incentives are available for renewable energy projects through the USDA,
Economic Development Administration, and the Department of Energy.

1. USDA-Rural Development (USDA-RD) provides resources, both technical and monetary, through
subsidized loans, guaranteed loans, and grants, to communities wanting to build a wide variety of
projects. For renewable energy projects, the Section 9006 Program provides grants and loan
guarantees. To develop essential support services for renewable energy projects, from added
emergency response capacity to educational facilities for the children of project workers, USDA-RD
provides grant and loan assistance through the Community Facilities program. USDA-RD also provides
housing, utilities, and small business support programs to help a community carry out its strategic plan
for development.

2. EDA - Global Climate Change Mitigation Incentive Fund (GCCMIF) was established to strengthen the
linkages between economic development and environmental quality. The purpose and mission of the
GCCMIF is to finance projects that foster economic development by advancing the green economy in
distressed communities. It supports projects that create jobs through, and increase private capital
investment in, efforts to limit the nation's dependence on fossil fuels, enhance energy efficiency, curb
greenhouse gas emissions and protect natural systems.

In FY 2009, GCCMIF assistance is available to finance a wide-range of projects, from strategy
development to construction. To access these programs, an applicant must provide appropriate
information to allow EDA to verify that the proposed project fulfills the objectives of the fund by both
project type and project output. Renewable energy; the development, production, or use of energy
derived from sources that do not deplete finite natural resources, including wind, solar, biomass, and
geothermal are among the types of projects accepted by EDA for this new program.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy acts as a clearinghouse for renewable energy project tax
credits, financing and incentives, including particularly programs through the 2009 ARRA. Information
on these resources can be found on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Efficiency and Renewable Energy
web site at: www.eere.energy.gov.

B. Resources Available from the State of Ohio

      Ohio Senate Bill 221
In response to the announcement of Governor Ted Strickland’s Energy, Jobs, and Progress plan the Ohio
Legislature developed and passed SB 221. The main premise of SB 221 was to develop policy
encouraging the development and implementation of advanced and renewable energy projects
in Ohio. Several of the Key alternative energy requirements outlined in SB 221 include Alternative
Energy Portfolio Standards, Energy Efficiency Standards, Solar Ready Schools, and Greenhouse Gas
Emission Reporting Requirements.

The Advanced Energy Portfolio Standards requires 25% of all kilowatt hours produced by electric
distribution companies must be generated from alternative energy resources by the year
2025. Alternative energy resources include both advanced energy resources and renewable energy
resources. Advanced energy resources are defined as any method, modification, or replacement of
equipment that increases the electric generation output of an existing facility without increasing the
carbon dioxide emissions of that facility. As defined earlier, renewable energy resources are defined as
energy created by using rapidly and naturally replenished sources,

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) will monitor compliance with the Advanced Energy
Portfolio Standard on an annual basis. A system of credits known as Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s)
has been developed to validate and track the amount of renewable energy generated in a given
year. One Renewable Energy Credit is equal to one megawatt of power. Utility companies are able to
buy, sell, or trade Renewable energy credits in order to meet compliance requirements.

During an annual review if the PUCO board determines that a utility was under compliance, it is to
impose a monetary penalty in the form of an alternative compliance payment. Alternative compliance
payments may not be passed on to ratepayers, and will be deposited into a renewable energy
investment fund to assist in financing future renewable energy projects.

                                                           In addition to alternative energy generation
       Renewable Energy Resource Benchmark                 sources, SB 221 addresses energy efficiency
       Year          Renewable Energy Solar Energy         programs as well. In order to remain in
       2009               .25%            .004%            compliance utilities may implement projects
       2010                .5%            .010%            such as demand response programs, as well
       2011                1%             .030%            as transmission and distribution
       2012               1.5%            .060%            infrastructure improvements to reduce line
       2013                2%             .090%            loss of energy.
       2014               2.5%             .12%
                                                           This section of SB 221 requires utilities to be
       2015               3.5%             .15%
                                                           proactive in implementing energy efficiency
       2016               4.5%             .18%
                                                           programs to attain a reduction in energy
       2017               5.5%             .22%
                                                           consumption from 2009 to 2025. Policies for
       2018               6.5%             .26%
                                                           peak demand reductions are addressed as
       2019               7.5%             .30%
                                                           well. Electric distribution utilities are
       2020               8.5%             .34%            obligated to implement peak demand
       2021               9.5%             .38%            reduction programs designed to achieve a 1%
       2022               10.5%            .42%            reduction in peak demand in 2009 and an
       2023               11.5%            .46%            additional .75% reduction each year through
  2024 (and each                                           2018. In 2018, the legislation shall make
                          12.5%            .50%
calendar year after)                                       recommendations to the general assembly
          Source: Ohio Revised Code 4928.64                regarding future peak demand reduction


Similar to the Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard, the PUCO board must file an annual review to ensure
utilities are in compliance with the Energy Efficiency Standards. If it is determined minimum
requirements are not attained, a penalty will be applied. All revenues collected from penalty fees will
be directed to the state’s advanced energy fund.

Two other initiatives addressed in SB 221 include solar ready schools and greenhouse gas emission
reporting. SB 221 requires the Ohio School Facilities Commission to adopt and administer rules
pertaining to standards for solar ready equipment in school buildings. The rules should include
standards regarding roof space limitations, shading and obstruction, building orientation, roof loading
capacity, and electric systems. However, in the event good cause can be justified, the school district
may request a waiver from the Ohio Schools Facility Commission.

To the extent permitted by federal law, SB 221 requires the PUCO to outline and adopt regulations
establishing greenhouse gas emission reporting requirements, including participation in the climate
registry, and carbon dioxide control planning requirements. These regulations will apply to all current
and future generating facilities emitting greenhouse gases located within the state of Ohio.

In the big picture of the alternative energy industry, SB 221 is just one example of how legislative policy
will assist in driving the development of alternative energy projects. As a result of State and Federal
regulations, the alternative energy industry will continue to grow presenting new opportunities for
development in rural America.

C. Resources Available in Local Communities

Local communities can utilize economic development tools that can be instrumental in attracting a
renewable project by either exempting or diverting
property taxes. Four programs will be briefly defined; two        Energy Efficiency Requirements
of which exempt property taxes and two that divert the                                Energy Efficiency
taxes to fund infrastructure improvements or help to fund                             Reduction
services to support the project.                             2009                     .3%
                                                             2010                     .5%
Enterprise Zone and Community Reinvestment Programs: 2011                             .7%
Local communities are authorized to abate property taxes 2012                         .8%
on real property through the Enterprise Zone and             2013                     .9%
Community Reinvestment Area programs for typically           2014-2018                1% Per Year
between 50 and 90 percent for up to 15 years.                2019-2024                2% Per Year
Communities must first establish physical boundaries for                              Cumulative Total of
the creation of these programs, and state law then           2025
                                                                                      Over 22%
provides local officials with the ability to negotiate a tax         Source: Ohio Revised Code 4928.66

incentive agreement with companies that locate within the boundaries of either program area. The
programs are intended to attract investment and job creation and can provide significant tax savings to
a large renewable investment.

Tax Increment Financing and Joint Economic Development Districts: These programs are also area
specific. Both programs necessitate the development of an economic development plan and creation of
specific boundaries. A Joint Economic Development District is determined by a contract approved by
the legislative authorities of one or more municipality or township. This cooperative agreement takes
the form of tax revenue sharing among the governmental entities. It can be a powerful attraction tool
by demonstrating cooperation in providing services to the renewable project and in sharing the tax
revenues that are generated, which can help to gain public support for the project.

Tax Increment Financing also requires that an agreement be established—this time between the
governmental entity and renewable project. The purpose of the agreement is to pay for the cost of
public improvements made as a result of development. Instead of property tax payments, the
project would make “service payments” in lieu of taxes (equal to the amount of property taxes
which would have been paid) and these funds would be deposited into a public improvement
tax increment equivalent fund to pay for public improvements and distribute money to the
school district.

Programs such as these are provided by state statute provide communities with the ability to
attract investment and create jobs. For more information or assistance on these programs,
communities can contact the Ohio State University Extension fact sheet series at
www.ohioline.com, or Ohio Department of Development at www.odod.state.oh.us, the entity
that administers the programs.

VI. Conclusion

As a result of existing assets, resources, policies and trends, rural communities now have a unique
opportunity to capitalize on economic strategies presented by renewable energy development. An ever
Increasing demand for energy along with concern surrounding dependence on fossil fuels and
environmental impacts have resulted in policies that are driving the increasing use of clean renewable
energy. At the federal level legislation such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
and resources available through a variety of governmental agencies are incentivizing the development
of renewables. The same trend is evident at the state level, with Ohio’s renewable energy standards
representing the third most aggressive policies in the U.S. (ODOD / SBID 2008). Ohio utility companies
will be required to generate at least 25% of their energy from alternative energy sources by the year
2025. The state has created a new strategic plan identifying Advanced Energy and Environmental
Technologies as a targeted industry. Ohio’s commitment will be to focus on integrating three core
development functions of research and development, advanced manufacturing, and information
technology to aid in the growth of the alternative energy industry in Ohio. This supportive
environment for renewables is providing an excellent opportunity for Ohio’s rural communities to

consider economic development strategies based on the attraction and development of generation
scale renewable energy industries.

The United States Department of Agriculture has recognized four important conditions that must be
present for rural communities to take advantage of opportunities in the renewable energy market.
These include the commitment of local leadership to encourage renewables by providing incentives
and/or adopting regulations, increasing demands for energy in nearby growth markets, adequate
transmission options, and a prepared community (USDA, 2009). Two of these four conditions,
commitment and preparation, are within the sphere of influence and control of local community
leadership and engaged residents. Renewable energy-based economic development offers the
potential of long term stability and diversification for local economies that are dependent upon a
shrinking manufacturing base. Being proactive about renewable energy projects by gaining community
support and identifying which projects work best based on available infrastructure, suitable sites,
environmental constraints and other considerations can help to set rural communities on a path of
economic vitality.


Conway Data, Inc. “The Site Selection Energy Report”, June, 2009. *On-line]. Available at:

International Economic Development Council, “The Climate Prosperity Handbook”, July, 2009. *On-line].
Available at: www.iedconline.org/?p=Climate_Prosperity_Handbook


Komor, Paul. (2004). Renewable Electricity-Generating Technologies: Cost and
Performance., Renewable Energy Policy (pp. 31-59). New York, NY: iUniverse, Inc.

National Geographic

Ohio Revised Code 4928.66 http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/4928.66

The Economist (2008). “From Bad to Great,” November 27, 2008

United States Department of Agriculture, “Your Community and Renewable Energy – Ideas on How to
Reap the Full Benefits of Renewable Energy Projects,” (Draft document) May 13, 2009

Whittaker Associates. “The Future Economy: Clean & Green”, July 31, 2009. *On-line] Available at:

                             Additional Resources: Selected Web sites
USDA Energy Matrix –
USDA Section 9006 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program –
US DOEnergy – Green Power Buying Program – http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/
Interstate Renewable Energy Council – http://www.irecusa.org
National Association of RC&D Councils – http://www.rcdnet.org/index.php
The National Center for Appropriate Technology – http://www.ncat.org/

USDA-RD – “Fueling a Fuel Revival” – Rural Ethanol Co-ops, http://www.rurdev.usda.gov /rbs/pub/
Clean Fuels Development Coalition, Nebraska Ethanol Board, and USDA-RD – A Guide for Evaluating the
Requirements of Ethanol Plants, http://www.ethanol.org/pdf/contentmgmt/
Ethanol Plant Development Handbook – http://www.ethanolrfa.org/industry/resources/handbook/

Biomass Electricity—
US EPA Landfill Methane Outreach Program – http://www.epa.gov/landfill/overview.htm

State Wind Resource Maps – http://www.eere.energy.gov/windandhydro/windpoweringamerica/
Windustry – http://www.windustry.com
Native Energy – http://www.nativeenergy.com
Energy4All – Setting Up Wind Energy Co-ops – http://www.energy4all.co.uk/


US DOEnergy – Geothermal Technologies Program – http://www1. eere.energy.gov/geothermal/
US DOEnergy – Geothermal Energy Applications – http://www1.eere.energy.gov/geothermal/

US DOEnergy Solar Energy Technologies Program – http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/
US DOEnergy – Solar Power in Ashland, OR – http://www.eere.energy.gov/greenpower/news/pr/
State of New York – School Power…Naturally – http://www.powernaturally.org/programs/
Montana Green Power – Schools Using Solar Power – http://www.montanagreenpower.com

Tidal Power—
US DOE – Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) - http://www.eere.energy.gov/
Tidal Power News – http://www.alternative-energy-news.info/technology/hydro/tidal-power/

Wave Power—
US DOE – Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) – http://www.eere.energy.gov/

US EPA Energy Star – http://energystar.gov/
USDA – ERS – “Economics of Sequestering Carbon in the US Agricultural Sector” – http://www.ers.
USDA – Amber Waves, May 2007 SpecEd. “Environmental Trading: Can Farming Benefit?” –
http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/ May07SpecialIssue/Features/Environmental.htm
The Chicago Climate Exchange – http://www.chicagoclimatex.com/
EPA – Energy Conservation Action Plan – http://www.epa.gov/greenkit/q5_energ.htm
Levins, Amory. “The Negawatt Revolution” – http://www.ccnr.org/amory.html#acc

Cambridge Energy Alliance – http://www.cambridgeenergyalliance.org/

Energy Planning—
National Association of Development Organizations – “Getting Started in Regional Energy & Fuels
Planning: Sharing the Land-of-Sky Experience” – http://www.nado.org/rf/innocenters/ lofsky.pdf

                              Additional Resources: Renewable Energy Maps

                          Additional Resources: Renewable Energy Maps
Wind Speed at 50 Meters                Wind Density at 50 Meters            Wind Speed at 100 Meters

          Wildlife Wind Map                                          US Solar Resource Map


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