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Ohio Could Lose Energy Standards that Create jobs, Save Customers Money

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PHOTO: Senator Bill Seitz (R–Green Township)is expected to introduce legislation that would limit how much utilities can spend on energy-efficiency programs and eliminate requirements for in-state solar and wind power. Photo: Senator Seitz.
PHOTO: Senator Bill Seitz (R–Green Township)is expected to introduce legislation that would limit how much utilities can spend on energy-efficiency programs and eliminate requirements for in-state solar and wind power. Photo: Senator Seitz.
 By Mary KuhlmanContact
August 27, 2013

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Essential elements of Ohio's clean-energy law could be scrubbed. When the General Assembly returns from break, Senator Bill Seitz (R-Green Township) is expected to introduce legislation that would limit how much utilities can spend on energy-efficiency programs and eliminate requirements for in-state solar and wind power.

According to the executive director of Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, Dave Rinebolt, rolling the standards back would send the wrong message to the investment community.

Rinebolt said such action would show "that Ohio is not interested in moving forward in the critical energy sector, and that will have impacts on our ability to attract new investment, new companies and build new companies here in Ohio."

Seitz says he's only looking to modify the standard, which requires utilities to obtain a certain percentage of their electricity from renewables and to reduce energy consumption. But Rinebolt and other consumer advocates say the standards have created jobs, saved customers money and made the state more competitive, and should be left alone.

Over 1,000 renewable-energy projects have been built in Ohio since the state standard was introduced five years ago, including a $600 million investment in a wind farm, the largest single corporate investment in the state in the past couple of years.

Rinebolt said that, besides being critical to economic development, the standards also are a pocketbook issue for consumers.

"The Public Utilities Commission just released a report that indicates that these renewable-energy projects are actually reducing energy prices that customers pay."

Senator Seitz has also indicated a concern about the price of energy-efficiency programs, which Rinebolt said have proved their effectiveness. He pointed to a recent analysis that found energy-efficiency programs essentially produce power at a rate of 1.6 cents per kilowatt hour.

"A new natural-gas power plant produces energy at a cost of about 7 cents, so if you look at energy efficiency as the equivalent of a power plant, there's no doubt that it's the cheapest power plant going," Rinebolt said.

It's estimated Ohio's energy-efficiency laws have achieved over $900 million in savings for Ohio ratepayers.

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