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Fight Over Clean Energy in Ohio Heating Up

Ohio Environmental Council, April 11, 2013

The battle over Ohio’s clean energy future is the hottest debate at the Statehouse in Columbus. And the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Will Ohio continue to cut greenhouse gases while growing new jobs and investment and saving consumers money by requiring investor-owned utility companies build new wind and solar projects and help customers to upgrade to energy-saving appliances and equipment?

Or, will state lawmakers in Columbus bow to the pressure of right-wing think tanks and FirstEnergy Corp., which are trying desperately to pull the plug on clean energy and, instead, inflate utility profits and prop up dirty fossil fuels and nuclear power?

Ohio’s Clean Energy Laws are Working

In 2008, Ohio passed landmark legislation aimed at boosting our clean energy economy. Just five years in to this visionary policy, Ohio’s clean energy laws are doing just that.

The efficiency standard (EERS) requires Ohio’s investor-owned utilities to save an increasing amount of energy each year through efficiency programs – like home appliance rebates – offered to their customers.

The renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requires that 12.5% of Ohio’s electricity come from renewable resources – like wind, solar and geothermal – by the year 2025.

These standards are working and are proving to be a boon for Ohio jobs, our economy and the environment.

Since being established, these standards have:

  • Saved electricity customers $1.7 billion on their electric bills.
  • Added more than 400 Megawatts (MW) of wind energy resources to our electric mix and an additional 1300 MW are on the way. 100% of these MW are from facilities located within the state of Ohio!
  • Saved 3.1 million megawatt hours of electricity through efficiency – the equivalent of running a 125 MW power plant 24/7/365.
  • Employed 35,000 Ohioans who work in clean energy industries and supply chain companies.

Read more success stories here.

Now, led by utility giant FirstEnergy and fossil fuel funded special interest groups, the Ohio legislature is considering a repeal of these laws.

Threats to the Laws

State Senator Bill Seitz, who is the Chairman of the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee, is aggressively conducting a full “review” (Ohio Senate Bill 58) of both the renewable portfolio standard and energy efficiency standard.

While no policy changes are yet proposed, the Ohio Environmental Council is very concerned that this review will result in a weakening of the standards, which will inhibit renewable energy development and investments in energy efficiency.

On March 12, Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, Todd Snitchler. On April 9, the Senate Public Utilities Committee invited a panel to discuss the pros and cons of Ohio’s energy efficiency standards.

Here is OEC’s testimony that was submitted for the April 9 hearing – the first hearing on SB 58 – that allowed for public testimony on the value of Ohio’s efficiency standard.

It’s becoming clear that Ohioans are growing more and more concerned that these discussions in the Senate are a vehicle for weakening Ohio’s clean energy laws. In fact, rolling back Ohio’s efficiency and renewable standards could mean higher electric bills, layoffs in the clean energy industry sector and lost economic opportunities.

Case in point: On Monday, April 8, Cleveland City Council passed a resolution to support Ohio’s clean energy laws.

Newspaper Editorials

Media Interviews

Nolan Moser, OEC’s Director of Clean Energy Programs, was interviewed on “The State of Ohio.” The discussion begins at the 8:10 mark.