Research: Ohio Energy Freeze Resulting in Millions in Lost Investment
COLUMBUS, Ohio - It's been almost a year since Ohio lawmakers froze the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, and some analysts say the damage is already unfolding.
Researchers at the Center for American Progress interviewed business leaders in the renewable energy sector in Ohio, and senior policy advisor and report co-author Gwynne Taraska says all of them reported negative impacts.
"We heard about projects being cancelled, sometimes very large-scale projects," says Taraska. "We heard about companies shifting their focus to other states. We heard about difficulty attracting new investment. We heard about layoffs and hiring generally being stalled."
The energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, set in 2008, required Ohio to reduce energy consumption by 22 percent by 2025, and for at least 12 percent of the Buckeye State's energy portfolio to come from renewable sources.
According to Taraska, the state has lost millions of dollars in energy investment as a result of the rollback. During the two-year freeze, the Energy Mandates Study Committee is evaluating and performing a cost-benefit analysis of the efficiency standards, and will report to the Ohio General Assembly with the results.
By freezing the standards, Taraska says Ohio took a "tool out of its toolbox" for meeting the goals of the EPA's Clean Power Plan, which calls for a 29 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 2012 levels by 2030.
She says the state needs forward-looking policies that ensure the market places a fair value on the benefits of efficiency and renewable energy.
"The full effects of the rollback of these standards will start to come in over the coming year," she says. "But I think what's really important is we have this overwhelming initial evidence that Ohioans are being harmed economically in terms of investment and in terms of jobs."
First Energy, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the American Legislative Exchange Council supported the freeze, arguing the standards were expensive and would raise electricity costs. Taraska says every $1 invested in energy-efficiency programs results in over $2 in near-term savings for ratepayers.