All Ohioans should have access to clean and affordable energy. The cheapest resource is energy efficiency – the cost to invest in widescale reductions in energy use to reduce demand is far less than the cost of building a new resource to meet demand in the absence of energy efficiency. Not only does energy efficiency reduce the overall cost of energy, but it is also a powerful tool for reducing the energy bills of customers who participate in these programs.
In 2008, Ohio was on a smart pathway to require utilities to implement energy efficiency with a goal of reducing demand by 22% by 2025 (SB 221, enacted July 2008). With this legislation, Ohio established renewable portfolio standards to diversify our energy mix and lower costs by requiring that a modest 12.5% of the energy generated be from renewable energy sources by 2023. Since that time, twenty-eight states have developed renewable portfolio standards, with eleven requiring 100% renewable energy by 2045 or later. (Summary of SB 221 as enacted.)
The energy efficiency and renewable energy standards were repealed in HB 6 in 2019 in order to pay for the bailout of two uneconomic nuclear and two coal plants, one of which is in Indiana. This was at the core of the scandal that resulted in the House Speaker and several utility lobbyists being indicted and the Chair of the Public Utilities Commission resigning. While the nuclear bailout was repealed, Ohioans are still being forced to pay for the coal plants.
According to the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, Ohioans are paying $79,975 per day to subsidize these two uneconomic coal plants and as of September 8, 2022, consumers had already paid over $178 million. Imagine the world of good that could be accomplished if those same funds were used to deploy energy efficiency in Ohio homes and businesses and to weatherize low-income households.
HB 6 should be repealed in its entirety and the energy efficiency and renewable energy standards restored so that all Ohioans can have the benefit of lower rates sourced from clean energy options. Moreover, the energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standard should be significantly increased to reflect its lower cost and the urgent need to address global warming. As it now stands, according the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Ohio ranks 37th in terms of its statewide policies to promote energy efficiency.