Coal Still King In Ohio

The population of the state of Ohio is approximately 11.75  million people[1]. In July 2020, utilities used natural gas (46.7%), coal (38.5%), nuclear power (13.2%), and renewable energy (1.6%) to generate electricity in the state[2]. Wind is the primary source of renewable energy in Ohio.

Ohio’s use of coal subsidies and natural gas contribute to the state’s below average cost of electricity. In July 2020, the average cost of residential electricity in the state was 12.09 ¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 13.26 ¢ per kWh.

Ohio is one of 30 states[3] with a renewable portfolio standard (RPS). However, the state’s RPS mandates that only 8.5% of the electricity generated from any utility be from renewable sources by 2026.

Ohio has been slow to move from fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) to renewable energy. However, the compelling economic and environmental advantages of renewable energy are causing some utilities to develop wind and solar projects in the state, including –

  • 200 MW Solar ProjectAmerica, solar developer, Savion Renewable Energy has announced plans to build the Atlanta Farms Solar Project, which will be located approximately 20 miles south of Ohio’s capital, Columbus. The project is forecast to be completed by year-end 2022.
  • 175 MW Wind + 150 MW Solar Hybrid Project – American power company, Invenergy is continuing work on a major wind and solar hybrid project, located approximately 90 miles northwest of Columbus, Ohio. The project is forecast to be completed by year-end 2021.

 Although the cheapest form of power without any financial subsidies is onshore wind, followed by solar, and then natural gas; coal is still king in Ohio. The state is the 10th largest producer of bituminous coal, which is primarily used as a fuel to generate electricity.

In 2019, Ohio legislators passed a law to provide financial incentives for coal-fired power plants. The new law costs consumers up to $1.50 per month to subsidize coal as a fuel in state power plants.

Ohio legislators enacted subsidies to “save jobs” in the state’s coal industry. However, the coal-mining industry in the United States employed 53,714 people in 2019[4], while the wind industry employed over 120,000 people[5].

Employment in the coal industry is forecast to continue to decline over the next decade, while job growth in the wind and solar industries are forecast to be robust. The only losers in Ohio are the consumers who are paying for the coal subsidies.


Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

[1] Ohio Population 2020, World Population Review

[2] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Ohio State Profile and Energy Estimates

[3] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, April  17, 2020

[4] Statista – US Coal Mining Employment in 2019

[5] Wind Powers America Annual Report 2019

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