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Report: Ohio's Clean Energy Freeze Hinders Weatherization Benefits

PHOTO: A new report finds low-income home weatherization in Ohio provides big dividends for households, but is threatened by the current freeze on Ohio's Clean Energy Standards. Photo credit: Dennis Shroeder/NREL.
PHOTO: A new report finds low-income home weatherization in Ohio provides big dividends for households, but is threatened by the current freeze on Ohio's Clean Energy Standards. Photo credit: Dennis Shroeder/NREL.
October 15, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Besides keeping Ohioans warm on chilly days, a new report from Policy Matters Ohio finds home weatherization saves energy, reduces pollution, and creates jobs.

An estimated 300,000 Ohio households spend over 30 percent of their yearly income on home energy bills, which report author Amanda Woodrum, an energy researcher at Policy Matters Ohio, says leaves them struggling to pay for other necessities. She says their research also found stepping up home weatherization programs can help end this cycle of "energy poverty."

"Ohio's weatherization program consistently lowers utility bills by more than 20 percent," says Woodrum. "This reduces the need for these households to seek bill payment assistance."

But those benefits could be lost, according to Woodrum, with the freeze and possible elimination of Ohio's Clean Energy Standards. She says that would mean losing more than $300 million in estimated investments in weatherization services, enough to weatherize nearly 50,000 homes over the next decade.

According to the report, weatherization reduces utility debt and lowers rates for all households. Executive director of Environmental Health Watch Mike Piepsny says it also improves the health and safety of Ohio's aging housing stock.

"More than half of our homes are more than 50 years old," says Piepsny. "These homes are energy hogs; they contribute more than 20 percent of CO2 emissions, a number that's comparable to both industry and transportation."

Woodrum says due to inadequate state, federal and utility-company funding, just over one percent of the homes that sought emergency utility bill assistance last year received weatherization services. She notes the state would benefit greatly from increased investments.

"The future of energy needs to be cleaner, and we need to do more efficiency," she says. "It just makes sense, it's smart and it's better for the environment, while also creating jobs."

She adds for every $1 million invested in weatherization, 52 jobs and 23 indirect jobs are created.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH