Proposed Freeze of Ohio's Clean Energy Standards is Misguided, Not in the Best Interest of Consumers

March 27, 2014 | 2:17 pm
Sam Gomberg
Senior Analyst

The defeat last year of Sen. Seitz’s efforts to undermine Ohio’s clean energy laws was a hard won fight and was good news for Ohio. And with the recent approval of Ohio’s newest wind farm, a new  report showing how energy efficiency is our cheapest electricity resource, and the Kansas legislature smartly refusing to roll back their renewable energy standard, you would hope that opponents of clean energy would finally get the message that the public knows that investing in energy efficiency, wind, solar and other clean energy resources is good for Ohio.

But the Ohio legislature is once again considering legislation that would roll back the state’s successful renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.

Ohio Statehouse - Columbus

The Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee is considering freezing the state’s successful renewable energy and energy efficiency policies. (Photo source: The Ohio Channel)

This time, rather than gutting the standards, clean energy opponents are calling for a “freeze”. But make no mistake – this is not a thoughtful pause. It is just the latest attempt by utility and fossil fuel interests to stop Ohio’s momentum towards a cleaner energy future.

Ohio’s clean energy standards are working for Ohioans. Energy efficiency programs are reducing electricity demand and driving down electricity costs. Renewable energy is producing clean, affordable electricity while providing economic development in Ohio communities. And both are reducing Ohio’s dependence on fossil fuels and the risks that accompany that dependence. If the legislature decides to freeze these standards, Ohio’s progress towards a cleaner, more diverse, and sustainable electricity sector will halt.

Unfortunately, the Legislators behind this attack are echoing the false and misleading claims from utility and fossil fuel interests that the standards will become too costly at some point in the future. Yet, these standards already have protective measures built into the law. In the case of efficiency, programs must be proven cost effective before they are approved. And the cost of meeting the renewable energy standard cannot, by law, increase rates by more than 3 percent.

Photo of Blue Creek Wind Farm in Northwest Ohio

The Blue Creek Wind Farm in Northwest Ohio is providing clean, reliable, and affordable electricity to power Ohio, including 25 percent of Ohio State University’s electricity needs. Source: chascarper.

So what’s the problem? The standards are currently being met cost-effectively. Consumers are protected from excessive or unexpected cost increases in the future. And we know that renewable energy and energy efficiency provide economic, environmental, and public health benefits to Ohioans while helping to address the rising risks of climate change and an overreliance on fossil fuels. The legislature should leave these standards alone—or better yet, focus on strengthening them so they are more in line with leading states in the region. That would encourage Ohio’s businesses and industries to continue building the clean energy future that Ohioans deserve.