Ohio’s Clean Energy Law, passed in 2008, put Ohio on the fast track toward more clean energy and more energy efficiency – boosting the economy and providing big electricity bill savings for consumers. The law set requirements for energy efficiency and renewable energy for each of the state’s four investor-owned utilities (IOUs), led to the launch of creative programs to update old technologies with new energy-saving devices, set Ohioans up for long-term energy savings, and helped Ohio transition away from its reliance on dirty energy sources to a clean energy economy.
Over just six years, the Clean Energy Law made Ohio a national leader for clean energy manufacturing, while reducing carbon emissions and reducing energy waste. Yet despite this record of success, in 2014, the Ohio Legislature and Gov. John Kasich watered down and stalled the law by passing Senate Bill 310 (SB 310), the clean energy freeze.
SB 310 froze energy efficiency and renewable energy standards at their 2014 rates for two years, while crippling key provisions of the efficiency standard. Just days after the passage of SB 310, House Bill 483 was passed, which made new wind farms dramatically harder to develop.
Ohio has a great deal to lose from the freeze and rollback of the Clean Energy Law – and stands to lose even more if the law is permanently frozen or repealed. In just the second year of the freeze, according to this report’s analysis, Ohioans will miss out on energy savings worth as much as $218 million, while the state will produce up to an additional 3.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution. If the freeze is left in place, the costs will rise, leading potentially to an extra 27.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2025.
Ohio officials should move quickly to reinstate Clean Energy Law programs and otherwise support the growth of clean energy in Ohio. Restoring the Clean Energy Law will reduce pollution, save Ohioans money, and grow the economy. It will also help bring Ohio into compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft Clean Power Plan, which calls for Ohio to reduce carbon emissions from electric power plants by 28 percent by 2030.
The Clean Energy Law has delivered economic and environmental benefits to Ohio.
The clean energy freeze could reverse Ohio’s recent growth in renewable energy, while almost completely erasing Ohioans’ opportunities to save energy – and money – through energy efficiency programs. According to the analysis in this report, the freeze will bring significant costs to Ohio consumers and the environment. And under a scenario in which the freeze is extended through 2025, those costs would grow dramatically:
Figure ES1. Through 2025, Ohio Could Miss Out on Reducing Carbon Dioxide Pollution by 159 Million Metric Tons
Under a permanent freeze, Ohioans would miss out on big energy savings in every corner of the state.
The rollback of the Clean Energy Law has already stalled Ohio’s progress on clean energy. FirstEnergy has announced the elimination of most of its programs to help consumers use energy more efficiently, while the solar energy market in the state has been “coming to a halt,” according to one solar business owner.
These costs and missed opportunities are avoidable. To continue Ohio’s progress toward a 21st century clean energy economy, the Energy Mandates Study Committee should recommend fully reinstating the clean energy standards passed in the original Clean Energy Law legislation(SB 221).
State leaders should:
In order to achieve the full benefits of clean energy, the Ohio EPA should also develop a robust State Implementation Plan to meet the U.S. EPA standards limiting global warming from power plants.