Press Release

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Extending the Freeze on Clean Energy Ties Ohio to Dirty Fuels of the Past

Ohio Environmental Council, April 20, 2016

While Ohioans’ support for clean energy is at an all-time high, State Senator Bill Seitz introduced legislation today that would thwart clean energy progress in Ohio. Senate Bill 320 proposes to extend the freeze on Ohio’s clean energy standards until 2020, which would weaken Ohioans’ ability to install rooftop solar, erode clean energy technology manufacturers’ competitiveness, and undermine the state’s ability to take action to reduce harmful pollution from the power sector.

“In Van Wert County, a local school district just received $1 million in revenue from the local wind farm, which is only one year in a 20 year revenue stream this school district will receive,” said Trish Demeter, Managing Director of Energy for the Ohio Environmental Council. “We need more clean energy projects like this in Ohio, so it’s mind-boggling to me why the Ohio General Assembly wants to tie us to a fading energy past instead of moving us forward.”

Recently, Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, a trade association for renewable energy and energy efficiency firms, released a poll that confirmed strong support among Ohioans for clean energy. Nearly two-thirds of Ohioans support the state’s clean energy law that requires electric utilities to increase their use of renewable energy.

“Coupled with the state’s recent decision forcing customers to bail out old, uneconomic power plants to the tune of $6 billion, this bill further places Ohio on a dangerous path away from the clean energy leader it once was,” said Dick Munson, Environmental Defense Fund’s director, Midwest clean energy. “The state’s competitive energy market had been attracting clean-energy investments and jobs for years before the freeze, but Ohio leaders keep resorting to extreme measures that block progress and favor fossil fuel subsidies over markets. The state needs to align policy with the clean energy future the majority of Ohioans want, rather than build barriers to innovation.”

Senate Bill 320 also proposes to limit the state’s ability to meet carbon pollution reduction goals outlined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

“Senator Seitz is wrong. Twice. He’s wrong to extend the freeze, harming the state’s economy and threatening public health, and he’s wrong to use the Clean Power Plan as justification,” said Sam Williams, Staff Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Pursuing solar, wind, and energy efficiency will always be the right strategy to cut carbon emissions, while letting Ohioans take advantage of the economic and health benefits of clean energy. The two-year freeze has been two years too many and it’s time to move forward,” said Williams.

Until Senate Bill 310 suspended the standards in 2014 for two years, Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards were delivering consumer and public health benefits to the tune of $4 billion in utility bill savings and thousands of avoided asthma attacks due to diminishing reliance on coal-fired power plants.

“There are more than 200,000 Ohio children suffering with asthma everyday,” said Tracy Sabetta with Moms Clean Air Force in Ohio. “We owe it to them to do a better job of cleaning up our air. It is time to utilize all tools at our disposal, including investing in clean and renewable energy sources, promoting energy efficiency, and reducing harmful power plant emissions that increase the frequency and severity of asthma attacks for our children.”

Senate Bill 320 does not include provisions that would remedy draconian wind turbine regulations enacted in 2014 by the Ohio General Assembly. Additionally, the bill would limit citizens’ ability to install rooftop solar and be more self-reliant in meeting their power needs.

“This is clearly the wrong direction for Ohio – Senator Seitz is trying to sell us rotary telephones and the Pon​y Express. One-hundred and ninety countries have reached a landmark deal to fight climate change, and any smart politician knows that Ohio is well suited to be an international clean energy leader with our stellar research institutions and strong manufacturing base,” said Jen Miller, Director of the Sierra Club Ohio Chapter. “We call on the Governor and the General Assembly ​to move into the 21st century with clean, affordable energy efficiency, wind power and solar energy.”

“Consumers are getting another bad deal with this bill. Extending the freeze is a targeted move against consumers and businesses that Ohio just can’t afford, ”  said Rachael Belz, Executive Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

“Energy efficiency and renewable energy are vital components to protecting Ohio’s birds and wildlife from the threat of climate change. Ohio should be leading on energy policy, not going in reverse,” said Marnie Urso, Audubon’s Senior Program Manager in Ohio.