New Attack Threatens Clean Energy Law in Ohio

A small minority of Ohio lawmakers have fashioned a new attempt to stop clean energy investment in the state by suspending the goals in the Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), which aims to provide more energy efficiency opportunities for consumers and to increase investment in renewable energy like wind and solar.

Introduced last Friday and the subject of a legislative hearing today, S.B. 310 sponsored by Senator Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) would freeze efforts to increase energy efficiency and the amount of renewable energy used to generate Ohio’s electricity, locking 2014 obligations in perpetuity, until a 21-member policy review committee is allowed to evaluate and recommend possible changes to the standard.  Hearings begin today on S.B. 310 in the Senate Public Utilities Committee that is headed by Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati). Senator Seitz sits on the Board of Directors of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or “ALEC”, a coalition of conservative state legislators and corporations that has teamed up with a number of deeply pocketed fossil fuel-funded groups to try to repeal or significantly weaken state renewable portfolio standards that require a certain percentage of electricity be generated from clean, renewable resources.

What the AEPS does

Ohio’s AEPS establishes annual obligation benchmarks for the state’s investor-owned utilities toward meeting twin goals of generating electricity from at least 12.5% renewable energy and 12.5% ”alternative”energy resources -- including the cheapest, cleanest source of energy efficiency -- by 2025. The current levels represent a fraction of that target, or about one-fifth of the way toward the combined 2025 goal.

After failing in at least three previous attempts over the past year to get another bill (S.B. 58 with Sen. Seitz the lead sponsor) attacking the AEPS moved out of committee, this new attack only puts a new coat of paint on top of the same old hydrant.

What’s at stake

According to a recent analysis from Ohio State University researchers, the AEPS is responsible for reducing consumer energy bills by 1.4%, increasing Ohio’s renewable energy supply by over 60%, and adding over 3,200 clean energy jobs since its 2008 enactment.

And, as we learned this winter, the law’s benefits extend far beyond lower bills and less pollution to establishing a more diverse energy supply, which  played a role in preventing a near catastrophic energy shortage during the worst of the extended “polar vortex”-induced deep freeze. 

We will stand with our clean energy partners, business voices, and consumer groups to defend the AEPS from this latest attack. Just last week, a bipartisan coalition in  support of  clean and renewable energy in Kansas, turned back yet another attempt to repeal the RPS aimed at fostering homegrown resources like wind and solar power there.

The fossil fuel interests aren’t giving up in their efforts to destroy these standards that are creating jobs, lowering bills, and cutting pollution.

We don’t intend to give up, either.