What is the Future of Energy Efficiency in Ohio?

Vijay Gopalakrishnan for Zondits, September 30, 2015. Image credit: Construction Law Signal

In 2008, Ohio legislators passed Senate Bill 221, which established clean energy standards for utilities. The primary goal of SB221 was to ensure that 25% of electricity in Ohio would come from renewable energy sources by 2025. This bill led to the creation of almost 25,000 jobs in the clean energy sector and made Ohio much more cost-effective for businesses across the board.

The push for clean energy also spawned ancillary industries to build components for wind turbines and other alternative energy technologies. Since 2008, utilities reported savings of over $2 billion from energy efficiency rebate programs and for every dollar invested in energy efficiency by utilities, customers saved three dollars in utility bills. Since 2009, more than 1,000 renewable energy projects yielding over 900 MW of renewable energy were installed in Ohio. Over the next 15 years, SB221 could result in the reduction of close to 342 million tons of CO2. To put that in perspective, that number is equivalent to taking 3.8 million cars off the road for 15 years. Clearly, SB221 has an economic benefit to utilities and customers, has an enormous environmental benefit, and reduces Ohio’s dependence on energy imports, thereby making it more energy independent.

In 2014, traditional fossil fuel dependent companies such as First Energy, ALEC, and other parties introduced Senate Bill 310. SB310 aimed to freeze all renewable and clean energy standards put in place by SB221 for 2 years. Inexplicably, SB310 was passed by legislators and was signed into law by Governor John Kasich. If no further action is taken, the phase-in of clean energy standards will resume in 2017. However, if SB310 is extended all the economic and environmental benefits of SB221 would be lost.

Decision Day Near on Paused Ohio Energy Efficiency Standards

Energy Manager Today, September 11, 2015

Businesses and health, community and environmental groups are asking Ohio lawmakers to reinstate targets for clean coal, wind, solar power and other renewable and advanced energy sources, according to The Washington Times.

An Ohio state law promulgated in 2008 requires 25 percent of the state’s energy to come from alternative sources by 2025. It also set efficiency goals. Criticism from Republican legislators led Governor John Kasich to pause the phase-in for two years in 2014. If no action is taken, the phase in will resume unchanged in 2017.

The recommendations from the groups was the follow up to an initiative called “Ohio’s Energy Tour.” It contained input from 70 experts and 10,000 residents of the state.

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