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Who is trying to bring down Ohio's Renewable Energy law?

Marc Lefkowitz  |  04/08/14 @ 11:00am  |  Posted in Clean energy

Mainstream media coverage of Ohio’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS)—which is again under attack in the state’s General Assembly—has missed important facts about who stands to gain (and lose) from a clean energy policy, says Media Matters for America.

Big push for wind<br />Honda installed two wind turbines capable of generating 10 percent of the power at its Russell's Point, Ohio transmission manufacturing facility.

The progressive media watchdog has evidence that the economic and environmental benefits to Ohio from its RPS outweigh the costs. But, they say, a well-funded Conservative group which has led attacks on other states' RPS, has managed to confuse the Ohio public.

Since 2008, Ohio's RPS has mandated that private utilities ramp up their supply of “advanced and renewable” energy to 12.5% of their total offering by 2025. The state also passed a energy efficiency mandate for utilities in Senate Bill 221.

Ohio State University research shows that SB 221 lowered Ohio utility bills by 1.4 percent, created 3,200 jobs, and stimulated $160 million in economic activity that contributed to the state’s GDP. Commissioned by Advanced Energy Economy Ohio Institute (AEEO), the study deflates arguments from opponents of Ohio’s RPS who say it is raising costs for residents and business.

“They found that the benefits of SB 221 have more than offset the increase (in generation costs), as efficiency tactics have reduced overall energy demand," writes Media Matters. "Consequently, the standards have reduced electricity bills and stimulated investment.”

The report found further that dismantling the laws, as last fall's Senate Bill 58 (and the current effort underway in this session of the Ohio Legislature) would have done, would have drastic negative economic consequences:

“The net effect of these differences is an electricity bill 3.7% higher under SB 58 than projected under maintaining the current SB 221 Actual Scenario (AS). This translates into increases of up to $3.94 billion between 2014 and 2025, with average annual increases of $302.8 million.”

It is for these economic reasons that the Ohio Manufacturers Association and others have come out in support of energy efficiency in recent months, Sierra Club Senior Campaign Representative for Ohio Dan Sawmiller wrote in June, 2013.

“Much to the chagrin of those who oppose energy efficiency, the energy savings continue to add up,” Sawmiller says.

He adds that the energy efficiency mandate meant that FirstEnergy had to offer those services which was effective in pushing down prices. “FirstEnergy was not happy about the opportunity to offer lower prices to its customers: ‘Obviously, we are disappointed in the results,’” their spokesperson said.

Why, then, do certain members of Ohio’s legislature continue to push for the repeal of the RPS, despite the evidence that it has produced broad benefits?

Media Matters, the non-profit “progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media,” reports that all of Ohio’s major dailies have failed to mention the connection between well-funded Conservative group, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Ohio lawmakers pushing for the repeal of the RPS.

Funded by fossil fuel industry giants, the Koch brothers and Exxon, ALEC has initiated a coordinated attack on states’ RPS, Media Matters reports. They add that none of Ohio’s major dailies has reported that State Senator Bill Seitz, chair of the Public Utilities committee, is a board member of ALEC along with other prominent members of his party who introduced legislation to “freeze” Ohio’s RPS.

Ohio Sierra Club has an online petition that will go to state Representatives calling on them to continue the RPS and the energy efficiency mandate and the progress they have made.

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