Athens City Council Passes Solar Ordinance

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Athens City Council unanimously voted to approve an ordinance about the community solar program during Monday night’s meeting. The ordinance is a ballot initiative to bring in the South Eastern Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC) and have a $2 million carbon fee attached to the utility bills of Athens residents.

Mayor Steve Patterson discusses the solar panel ordinance.

“The next step is to get it to the board of elections,” said Mayor Steve Patterson. “They need to make sure the language is worded correctly for people to understand the ordinance when it shows up on the ballots.”

Once the ordinance is on the ballot for the upcoming primary election in May, Patterson said city residents will vote on whether they want the ordinance approved.

Even if the measure passes, anyone would be allowed to opt-out of the fee.

If approved, residents would see their utility bills increase by several dollars monthly, according to Council President Chris Knisely.  The money would be specifically allocated toward alternative energy programs; eventually saving up enough money to put solar panels on more of the community’s buildings.

“This is us working on what we call an energy action plan,” Knisely said. “We have goals to reduce electric consumption by residential customers, but then also increase our solar capacity output.”

Jackie O’s is one of the few local businesses already using solar energy.

Local businesses such as Jackie O’s Brewery, Little Fish Brewery and Village Bakery are one step ahead of the ordinance. These businesses have been using solar energy. Each of the businesses love what the use of solar energy is doing for their businesses despite the original high cost of the project.