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Solar Rebates and Incentives for Ohio

At first glance, it looks like Ohio has one of the toughest renewables portfolio standard (RPS) in the United States: 25% alternative energy by 2025. But “alternative” is the tricky word, as the RPS counts nuclear energy and clean coal as alternative energy sources. Fortunately for solar enthusiasts there are renewable minimums, what some would consider Ohio’s real RPS, requiring investor-owned utilities (IOU) and retail electricity suppliers to have 12.5% renewable energy by 2024. That includes a solar electric minimum of 0.5% by 2024.
That may not be the strongest RPS in the country, but it is already helping Ohio’s solar industry by spawning a number of incentives for home solar power, led by a state-funded solar grant program.
Residential Solar Photovoltaic Energy Incentive
The Ohio Department of Development is offering first-come, first-served grants for photovoltaic systems installed on residential buildings. The incentive rate is $3.00-per-watt installed DC capacity with a maximum of $25,000. Systems must be on the property owner’s primary residence, grid-connected and metered. Work must be performed by an eligible installer.
Systems must be evaluated using a Solar Pathfinder or substitute approved by the Ohio Energy Office, and grant applications must include a Solar Site Analysis Report. Grant awards are reduced by the percent the site varies from the ideal site found by the Solar Site Analysis Report. If selected to receive a grant, work cannot proceed until a grant agreement with ODOD has been executed, and once that is complete, the project must be completed within 12 months of signing, at which point funds will be disbursed. For more information, see ODOD.
GEO Solar Thermal Rebate Program
Non-profit Green Energy Ohio, with funding from the Sierra Club, offers a rebate to Ohio homeowners installing solar water heaters. They offer $30 per expected kBtu produced per day up to $2,400. Systems must be installed by a GEO-approved solar contractor. Upon completion of PART I of the application process, which includes applicant and installer information, solar site analysis report, proposed equipment and site sketch, the GEO issues a rebate reservation number, after which the applicant has six months to install the water heater.
PART II comes after the system is installed. At that point, an inspection certification checklist, itemized invoices, copies of passed code inspections and a photo of the system must be submitted. If all is in order, GEO will then issue the rebate. For even more info, see Green Energy Ohio.
State Loan Program - Energy Conservation for Ohioans (ECO-Link)
Ohio also offers a loan program for homeowners. It is primarily intended for energy efficiency upgrades (new appliances, furnaces, insulation, etc.) but solar water heat and PV are listed among eligible technologies. The program offers a 3% interest rate reduction on a 5-year bank loan and only applies to the first $25,000 and 5 years of the loan (Hamilton County has a similar program). See Ecolink.ohio.gov for details.
Net Metering
Ohio has net metering rules stipulating that utilities must allow homeowners to connect their solar power systems to the energy grid and be reimbursed for excess energy produced. There is no set capacity limit (although it is implied that systems should not exceed a customer’s on-site power needs), and no reference to renewable energy credits in the current law. Excess solar electricity produced is credited to the customer’s next bill at the unbundled generation rate. A customer may request a refund of excess power at the end of a 12-month billing cycle.

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