Ohio, named after the river that forms its southern boundary, is a Great Lakes state bordered on the north by 312 miles of Lake Erie shoreline. Lake Erie influences Ohio’s weather and provides an important offshore wind energy resource, and prevailing winds generally cross the state from the south and southwest, providing some onshore wind resources as well. The Appalachian Plateau, part of the larger Appalachian Basin, crosses the eastern part of Ohio and contains considerable reserves of coal, as well as many crude oil and natural gas fields. The state’s climate provides abundant precipitation on Ohio’s rolling plains, which have some of the most fertile farmland in the nation and mark the beginning of the Corn Belt that extends westward across the Midwest. Corn produced in the state feeds Ohio’s many ethanol plants.

With its large population, heavily industrial economy, and highly variable climate, Ohio is among the top 10 states in total energy consumption. The industrial sector is the largest energy-consuming sector in the state. Ohio’s primary economic activity is manufacturing. A significant amount of Ohio’s manufacturing is related to the transportation sector, but the state also has strong metals and chemical production industries. The transportation sector is the second-largest energy-consuming sector in the state, followed closely by the residential sector. Despite Ohio’s strong industrial base, per capita energy consumption in the state is only slightly above the national median.

Renewable Energy

Quick Facts

  • The Utica Shale has contributed to the rapid increase in natural gas production in Ohio, which was more than 12 times greater in 2015 than 2011.
  • Ohio had the seventh largest crude oil refining capacity in the nation in 2015.
  • In August 2003, a transmission failure in Ohio led to the largest blackout in North American history, affecting more than 50 million people.
  • Coal fueled 59% of Ohio’s net electricity generation in 2015,  natural gas contributed 23%, and nuclear energy accounted for another 14%.
  • Ohio ranked seventh in the nation in 2013 in energy consumption by the industrial sector. Output from Ohio’s factories accounted for 17% of the state’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014, and contributed 4.7% to the total U.S. manufacturing GDP in 2014.

Renewable energy resources, including hydroelectric power, supply only about 2% of Ohio’s net electricity generation. Wind provides the largest share, and net generation from wind in the state has increased dramatically since Ohio’s first utility-scale wind farm was constructed in Bowling Green in 2004. That wind farm’s four turbines generate up to 7.2 megawatts of power. Since construction of the first wind farm, several larger wind generation facilities have been built, and by 2014 Ohio had 32 projects online—3 utility-scale and 29 smaller facilities. By the fourth quarter of 2015, Ohio had more than 440 megawatts of installed wind capacity online and more than 250 megawatts of capacity under construction. The 304-megawatt Blue Creek Wind Farm, with its 152 2-megawatt turbines, became the state’s largest wind farm when it was completed in 2012. Offshore wind-powered generation in Lake Erie is planned, and a demonstration project called Icebreaker is in development in Lake Erie northwest of Cleveland. Ohio was the leading manufacturer of wind energy components in the nation in 2014.

Ohio is exploring offshore wind power development in Lake Erie.

Ohio has biomass and solar energy resources. Biomass from wood and wood waste, municipal solid waste, landfill gas, and biodigesters has contributed to Ohio’s net electricity generation for some time. There are 20 biomass-fueled power plants in Ohio. The state also has wood pellet manufacturers that produce a combined total of 115,000 short tons of pellets per year, some of which are used for power generation and heating. The solar power requirement in Ohio’s renewable energy standard has encouraged solar projects. The state has several solar photovoltaic (PV) power plants. The two largest solar facilities in Ohio are the Wyandot Solar Farm and the Napoleon Solar Project, both located in the northwestern part of the state.

Ohio is the seventh-largest ethanol-producing state in the nation. All but one of the state’s nine ethanol plants use corn as a feedstock. The remaining plant uses waste industrial alcohol. Ohio’s ethanol plants produce almost 530 million gallons of ethanol per year, and the state’s share of U.S. ethanol consumption is almost equal to its share of the nation’s production capacity. The state also has two biodiesel plants that process soy oil into biofuels. The combined capacity of the two plants is about 65 million gallons per year.

Ohio has both an Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) and an Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS). The AEPS, as enacted in 2008, required all of the state’s retail electricity providers, except municipal utilities and electric cooperatives, to obtain 25% of their retail electricity sales from alternative energy resources by the end of 2024. In 2014, the AEPS was revised. The requirement was halved to 12.5%, and the end date was changed to 2026. The original requirement that half of the renewable power be generated in Ohio was also removed. The AEPS includes a solar energy requirement. Ohio’s EEPS, enacted in 2008 and revised in 2014, requires that utilities put in place energy efficiency and peak demand reduction programs that achieve a 7.75% reduction in peak demand by 2020 and cumulative energy savings of 22% by 2027.


The primary fuel for electricity generation in Ohio is coal. Eight of Ohio’s 10 largest power plants by capacity are coal-fired. In recent years, coal’s share of generation and the number of coal-fired power plants in the state has decreased. In 2015, 15% of the state’s coal-fired generation capacity was retired. However, coal still fuels more than half of the state’s electricity generation. Even though natural gas-fired generation has increased dramatically since 2008, it accounted for less than one-fourth of the state’s net generation in 2015. Ohio has two nuclear power plants located along Lake Erie. Those plants typically supply almost one-eighth of the state’s net generation. Renewable energy, particularly wind generation, is a small but growing source of Ohio’s net generation.

Ohio is among the top 10 electric power generators in the nation and among the top 5 states in retail sales. The residential sector accounts for the greatest share of retail sales of electricity in Ohio. Slightly more than one-fifth of Ohio households rely on electricity as their primary source of energy for home heating. Because Ohio’s net generation does not meet state demand, Ohio is a net recipient of electricity from outside of the state.

Ohio is part of an electric power grid that services all or part of 12 states between the Mississippi River and the Atlantic Ocean. In August 2003, a transmission failure in northeastern Ohio led to the largest blackout in North America, affecting an estimated 50 million people in the northeastern United States and Canada for up to two days. It took only nine seconds for the grid to collapse. A U.S.-Canadian joint task force investigated the causes of the blackout and made several recommendations including that reliability standards be mandatory with penalties for non-compliance. A number of the task force recommendations were incorporated into the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Energy Infrastructure Security Act of 2007. Improvements in procedures and technology have been implemented since the blackout.

Natural Gas

In 2015, natural gas production in Ohio was more than 12 times greater than in 2011.

Ohio’s natural gas reserves and production have increased substantially in recent years. In 2015, natural gas production in Ohio was more than 12 times greater than in 2011, rising from less than 1% of the nation’s total to 3% of the total. Much of the additional natural gas production is from the Utica Shale, and some is from the Marcellus Shale. Ohio’s marketed natural gas production equaled state demand for the first time in 2015, and much of the increase occurred in the final quarter of the year.

Several interstate natural gas pipelines cross Ohio. The 2009 extension of the Rockies Express Pipeline (REX) to Clarington, Ohio, near the border with West Virginia, has led to the formation of new natural gas trading points in the state. In August 2015, the eastern section of the REX became bidirectional, allowing delivery of natural gas from the Appalachian Basin to the Midwest as well as delivery of Rocky Mountain natural gas to the East. Natural gas enters Ohio primarily from Indiana, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. In 2015, the majority of the natural gas entering the state continued on to Michigan and Kentucky, but about three-tenths of it was used in Ohio. To meet peak demand in winter, Ohio withdraws natural gas from storage. The state has 24 natural gas storage fields in depleted oil and natural gas reservoirs. They have a combined total storage capacity of almost 578 billion cubic feet, about 6% of the nation’s total.

Ohio is among the top 10 natural gas-consuming states. The industrial and residential sectors are the state’s largest natural gas consumers, followed by the electric power sector. Natural gas use for electric power generation in Ohio has increased markedly in recent years as domestic natural gas production has increased, bringing prices down. Much of the increase in production comes from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and the Utica Shale in Ohio. About two-thirds of Ohio households use natural gas for home heating.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (Apr 2016)

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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio allows customers to choose alternative electricity suppliers. Most Ohio utilities continue to own generation with exception of FirstEnergy which sold off its power plants but continues to own its transmission and distribution wires. The utilities were required to develop “Electric Security Plans” to serve customers who do not choose an alternative energy supplier. Under the security plans, customers are responsible for surcharges for energy efficiency, economic development, new power plants, and updated and deferred fuel costs, in addition to deferring current costs into the future.

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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio allows customers at Dominion East Ohio, Columbia Gas, Duke Energy and Vectren Energy Delivery the ability to choose an alternative supplier for natural gas. Their gas supply will still be delivered by the local utility. Most utilities are transitioning away from providing for gas supply exiting what is called the “merchant function” of gas supply service. Those still providing natural supply charge a “Gas Cost Recovery (GCR) rate”. In the emerging model, utilities auction off customer supply and charge a “Standard Service Offer (SSO)”. SSO is similar to the GCR but is set by competing suppliers via an auction and based on the NYMEX price.

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