Sound energy policy is under fire in Ohio, and the Energy Future Coalition’s Rebuilding America partners are stepping up to protect it. Industry groups like Johnson Controls, Owens Corning, The Dow Chemical Company, and the Mechanical Contractors Association of Ohio are leading the charge against Ohio Senate Bill 58 (SB58), an obvious attempt to roll back comprehensive and progressive energy legislation passed in 2008 with Ohio Senate Bill 221 (SB221). Many organizations have now written joint or individual letters, testified to Ohio politicians, or issued position statements in opposition of SB58.
A group of Ohio business leaders including Johnson Controls, Whirlpool, Emerson, Owens Corning, Dow, BASF Corporation, Ingersoll Rand and Navistar issued a joint letter that states:
We believe that policies promoting energy efficiency should continue to be a part of Ohio’s plan to attract investment and create opportunities for economic growth. We do not believe that Senate Bill 58 in its current form is consistent with this point of view. In our view, the bill would reduce incentives for energy reduction and efficiency.
The Mechanical Contractors Association of Ohio’s letter likewise states:
Customers, small business owners, energy efficiency companies, [combined heat and power] developers, and energy innovators will be on the losing end, while Ohio utilities will continue to profit and increase their margins. By enacting energy portfolio standards in 2008, the legislature invited clean energy businesses to invest in Ohio. These efforts have created jobs and opportunities for our members. Yet SB 58 promises to halt this momentum.
Senate Bill 58, championed by State Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) and backed by groups like First Energy Corporation and the Ohio Energy Group, directly assaults energy efficiency and renewable energy. The bill would weaken and push back energy efficiency benchmarks mandated to electric utilities; allow electric utilities to manipulate energy savings baselines; allow electric utilities to count upgrades to their own transmission and distribution infrastructure as efficiency; and institute a cost cap that would effectively relieve the utility from pursuing further energy efficiency measures once reached. These policy propositions are clearly designed to obstruct the progress of energy efficiency in Ohio.
On renewable energy, SB58 would be just as negative, predominantly through the provision to count Canadian hydropower towards state renewable portfolio requirements, supplanting the building of additional renewable energy facilities in Ohio. It is a poorly timed provision, too, especially when the State’s own Public Utility Commission recently confirmed the existence of the “price suppression effect” of renewable energy, which posits the zero fuel cost of renewable energy resources in competitive markets—such as that of the PJM Interconnection—exerts a downward pressure on consumer electricity prices.
And the Ohio State University recently provided economic validation of SB221 as a whole. They modeled two different scenarios: one that acts as though SB221 never existed, and another that acts as though SB58 passes the state legislature. The latter scenario found that SB58, if passed, would increase electricity bills by 3.9%, leading to a missed opportunity of $4.75 billion in total savings to Ohioans accruing through 2025.
Because of its position as a key political battleground state, the rest of the country watches Ohio’s actions on progressive energy legislation with a keen eye. The passage of SB58 would essentially gut Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards and set a dangerous precedent for the country.
The WIRE-Net position statement provides for some ways to take action:
- Call your representative and Governor Kasich and voice your concern.
- Write a letter to your representative and Governor Kasich.
- Voice your opinion in your local media.
- Stay informed. Organizations such as Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, Energy Future Coalition, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association and Ohio Green Strategies have updated information on the progress of this important issue.
- Talk to your peers to exchange information and ideas.
- Email this article to your contacts to keep them informed.
- Host an industry roundtable with your legislator. Let WIRE-Net or the Energy Future Coalition know if you are willing to do so and we will help organize it with you.
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