As you read this, the "Energy Mandates Study Committee"--the legislative body tasked with reviewing Ohio's energy efficiency and renewables policies--is dotting the I's and crossing the T's on a highly anticipated report that will determine the future course of Ohio's energy policy.
The report, which is due this week by September 30 and may include legislative recommendations, is a fork in the road for Ohio's energy landscape.
We hope the Committee will follow the brightly-lit path of evidence heard over the last two years of this debate and recommend lifting the clean energy "freeze" that was enacted last year (SB 310). I've written extensively about the overwhelming evidence demonstrating the economic, health, and environmental benefits the energy efficiency and renewables standards have brought--and will bring--Ohio. These policies are still in their infancy, and to delay their reinstatement or further diminish them would reverse the progress the state has made since they were first established five years ago.
But equally important, Ohioans are demanding their representatives stop using the state's energy future as a political football and put the long-term interests of people ahead of short-term profits.
More than 10,000 Ohioans signed a petition this year asking lawmakers to support clean energy policies in the state and bring Ohio back to the forefront of the clean energy economy in the Midwest. The petition was part of the Ohio's Energy Future Tour--a kind of "road show" that united diverse allies (from environmentalists to the military, faith leaders to local small business owners, health professionals to investment companies), all around one simple truth--Ohio should be seizing the opportunity to capitalize on a clean energy future for the wellbeing of the state's economy, its people and the environment.
Over the course of six meetings across the state, the Tour traveled 726 miles. It heard testimony from over 70 community leaders, and involved thousands of Ohioans who voiced their support both at the events, but also through the petition urging Ohio's lawmakers to embrace clean energy. The broad, bipartisan coalition reflects the vast scope of interest in this issue across the state. Despite our different backgrounds, what we all have in common is the commonsense to see that moving away from polluting and uneconomic fossil fuels and toward increasingly low-cost, clean energy is the best path forward for Ohio.
Unsurprisingly, the views expressed throughout the Tour led to one simple energy vision for Ohio: (re)commit to clean sources of electricity. Ohio's 21st century energy policy should embrace energy efficiency, renewables like wind and solar, and strive for technological innovation to benefit both businesses and the families who depend on affordable and safe power.
As we await the final report, we hope Committee members, legislative leadership, and the Kasich Administration will put politics aside and thaw the freeze ASAP. By doing so we can recapture the economic and policy certainty that made Ohio such an attractive place to do business five years ago when clean energy was first taking off.
Other states are passing us by--but it doesn't have to be that way. The state emerged as a regional leader when it enacted its clean energy policies five years ago. We should not relinquish that role. Failing to lift the freeze will further stagnate economic growth and cost the state jobs, resources and opportunities.
More than 10,000 Ohioans see the negative impacts already happening from last year's freeze legislation. But they also see tremendous opportunities. Recommitting to the state's energy efficiency and renewables policies now is critical to realizing Ohio's long-term energy vision.
Ohioans are demanding action. Hopefully those who've been elected to represent them are listening.