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State Senator Calls for Review of Clean Energy Laws

Ohio Environmental Council, February 28, 2013

On February 1, Ohio State Senator William J. Seitz, chair of the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee, issued a memo to interested parties asking for input on discussion topics as his committee begins “a meaningful review of the energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standard issues last addressed by Senate Bill 221 in 2008 and Senate Bill 315 in 2012.”

Senator Seitz’s preliminary list of nine discussion topics included questions that could lead to sweeping changes in Ohio’s Clean Energy Laws – the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and the Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS).

These standards require Ohio’s electric utilities to gradually increase the amount of electricity they generate from renewable resources (RPS) and how much of their customers’ demand for electricity is met through energy efficiency (EERS). 

First and foremost, Senator Seitz’s memo asks whether the gradually escalating annual efficiency targets should be frozen, given changes in the economy that have occurred since 2008 when the standards were established.

Further, the memo questions the cost of implementation of the renewable portfolio standard, and whether the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has appropriately interpreted the laws on the books.

Lastly, Senator Seitz asks for input from stakeholders about what should be done to protect energy contracts “in the event that the current EE/RPS benchmarks are significantly altered or abolished.”

The Ohio Environmental Council was one of many who responded to Senator Seitz’s memo, reinforcing our strong support for Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. Ohio’s Clean Energy Laws area boon to consumers, the environment, and the economy.

The OEC’s response centered around several points:

  • Most importantly, the standards set forth in Senate Bills 221 and 315 are achievable. All four investor-owned utilities in Ohio are in full compliance with the annual benchmarks, with several exceeding them.
  • Since the establishment of Ohio’s renewable energy standards in 2009, Ohio has added 1051 Megawatts (MW) of wind energy resources and 755 MW on the way. 100% of these MW are from facilities located within the State of Ohio. And since 2009, Ohio has vaulted up to 16th in the nation in solar energy installation.
  • Consumers are benefitting greatly from the efficiency standard; since 2009, Ohio’s electric consumers have saved over $1.7 billion dollars on their electric bills.
  • Lastly, there are no reasonable alternative as Ohio moves forward. About 84% of Ohio’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants, most of which are targeted for de-commissioning because they’ve become too expensive to operate. The retirement of these plants will create a huge gap in the generation capacity and efficiency combined with renewables will be the most economical and least-risky way to help to fill the gap.  

Weakening or “freezing” Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards would be bad for the environment, bad for the economy, bad for Ohio jobs and bad for ratepayers.

This spring, Senator Seitz will be holding a series hearings to explore the topics and questions raised in his memo.  He then plans to introduce legislation that will most likely propose changes – for better or worse – to Ohio’s Clean Energy Laws.

Check back for updates on how these hearings proceed, and how you can speak up for Ohio’s renewable and energy efficiency standards.

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