Efficiency At Risk In Ohio: Who Is Behind It?

American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) Aims to Derail Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Gita Subramony for Zondits, April 6, 2014

Recently, standards and programs for renewable energy and energy efficiency have come under fire in certain states. A few weeks ago, Indiana’s energy efficiency programs died when Republican Governor Mike Pence allowed a bill into law that dismantled them. Neighboring Ohio’s renewable and efficiency standards are also in trouble. A state bill there is seeking to freeze energy reduction targets.

In Ohio’s case, the bills on the table that propose limiting renewables and freezing energy efficiency goals have been primarily sponsored by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This organization is a nonprofit group whose members include both publicly elected legislators and private business representatives, nearly all of whom align their policies with conservative ideologies. ALEC has consistently engaged in activities that oppose renewable portfolio standards and energy efficiency for a number of years. Their efforts to weaken renewable and efficiency standards largely failed in 2013; however, they are continuing their attack in 2014.

Ohio’s Senate Bill 58, introduced by ALEC board member Bill Seitz, proposes eliminating the state’s renewable and efficiency standards. Despite the fact that a majority of Ohioans support renewables and energy efficiency and that Ohio’s programs have achieved 3.1 MWh of savings through efficiency between 2009 and 2011, legislators backed by ALEC are still trying to push their agenda forward. ALEC’s claims regarding the impacts of the renewable portfolio standards and energy efficiency initiatives have been refuted by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) as well as other utilities. The Union of Concerned Scientists has reported on ALEC’s misleading claims regarding renewables and energy efficiency.

This year, ALEC’s assault on clean energy and efficiency continues. Midwest Energy News posted an interview showing how ALEC is attempting to dismantle renewable portfolio standards and energy efficiency initiatives, all the while framing their proposals as pro-clean energy. It should also be noted that ALEC’s agenda is likely tied to their corporate backers, including Koch Industries and Exxon Mobil. Media Matters provides a great snapshot of how ALEC’s agenda is tied to corporate backers in the fossil fuel industry and how their proposals completely disregard independent reports that show that Ohio’s renewable and efficiency initiatives have benefited the state’s economy and are widely supported by the public.

Here’s hoping that renewable portfolio standards and energy efficiency can survive ALEC’s onslaught in 2014. Many states have seen great returns on investments into efficiency as well as job growth and a cleaner environment as added benefits. Unfortunately, the corporate interests that fund ALEC and similar groups are adamant about dismantling these initiatives; they represent the interests of the fossil fuel industry solely and willfully ignore the best interests of the everyday American consumer.