Ohio Experts Endorse State’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Standards
Academics support strong clean energy policies
More than two dozen academics with expertise in clean energy have signed an open statement in support of Ohio’s successful policies requiring utilities to obtain 12.5 percent of their electricity from renewable sources and reduce energy use 22.5 percent through energy efficiency programs, both by 2025. They join thousands of Ohioans who have taken action to support their state’s clean energy commitment this year.
The open statement was shared with members of the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee in advance of a June 18 public hearing, along with written testimony submitted by UCS Energy Analyst Sam Gomberg examining the economic, environmental, and public health benefits of diversifying Ohio’s energy portfolio with more clean energy. It was the latest round in a legislative review that puts all options on the table, from possible strengthening to outright repeal of Ohio’s renewable electricity standard (RES) and energy efficiency resource standard (EERS).
A successful track record
After five years of Ohio’s bipartisan clean energy standards in action, the facts show that these innovative policies are a success and should be maintained, and ultimately strengthened. Ohio is now home to more than 1,100 renewable energy projects. Energy efficiency programs have already saved enough energy to power 30,000 average Ohio homes for a year. Increased investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency created an estimated 3,200 jobs from 2008 to 2012, according to a new study by The Center for Resilience at The Ohio State University. Researchers also found that savings from improvements in energy efficiency more than offset the less than one percent increase in electricity generating costs resulting from increases in renewable energy.
These facts are consistent with the findings of a recent UCS review of state-level renewable electricity standards. In the Midwest for example, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin are all reporting little or no additional costs to comply with their RES requirements, while at the same time reaping significant economic benefits that include job creation, new revenues for local and state governments, and long-term stability in electric rates. Maintaining and eventually strengthening Ohio’s RES positions the state to harvest similar benefits.
Energy efficiency is cheaper than generating electricity, making it a no-brainer for consumers. A recent report by the Ohio Manufacturers Association, in partnership with the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy (ACEEE), found that Ohio’s energy efficiency standard could provide net savings of more than $2.7 billion through 2020.
Clean energy opponents spread false information
Unfortunately, Ohio is just the latest state where fossil fuel-funded special interest groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council and Heartland Institute, have targeted clean energy policies for repeal.
Misinformation lies at the heart of these attacks. Opponents of Ohio’s RES are fond of citing a 2009 report questioning the job and economic benefits of renewable energy development that has been thoroughly debunked by everyone from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to The Wall Street Journal. They do not mention that this “study” was paid for by the Institute for Energy Research (IER), which has received funding from ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers. FirstEnergy, one of Ohio’s largest electric providers, has also gotten into the misinformation game, claiming that energy efficiency is too costly when in fact it is Ohio’s cheapest, cleanest, and most readily available resource for meeting energy demand.
The facts support maintaining strong clean energy policies
The good news is policy makers in states across the country, including recently in Kansas and North Carolina, are choosing clean energy facts over fossil fuel fiction, and doing so in bipartisan fashion. In fact, no state has repealed a renewable electricity standard, ever. Ohio should not be the first to reverse progress on clean energy.
Indeed, the energy experts in Ohio agree:
“We now have an opportunity to transition to cleaner sources of electricity. Nearly 6,800 megawatts of old, inefficient, dirty, and uncompetitive coal generating capacity is scheduled for retirement in Ohio. We must embrace this as an opportunity to further diversify our energy sources in a way that reduces pollution and keeps energy dollars local by continuing to invest in Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency resources.”
The Ohio General Assembly will soon begin its summer recess, but the debate over the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards is expected to resume this fall. When it does, legislators would do well to listen to what Ohio’s own energy experts have to say about the success and importance of the state’s clean energy policies in transitioning to a safe, affordable, and reliable energy economy.