Clean Energy Standard Freeze "Suffocating" Investment in Ohio?
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A recommendation to keep Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards frozen at 2014 levels is drawing fire from conservation and environmental groups, as well as Gov. John Kasich.
The standards were put in place in 2008 and last year lawmakers enacted a two-year freeze.
The Energy Mandates Study Committee suggested on Wednesday that state lawmakers continue that freeze indefinitely.
Frank Szollosi, Great Lakes Regional outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation, says since the freeze began, the clean energy sector has stopped making investments in Ohio.
"With the decision by the Legislature to continue to suffocate clean energy financing in the state, it basically doubles down on a very bad decision," he stresses.
Kasich's office says a continued freeze is unacceptable, and the governor is willing to work with state lawmakers to devise a new clean energy bill.
The committee says the mandates are costly, and the freeze is needed as Ohio and other states fight the Clean Power Plan.
The clean energy standards require Ohio to reduce energy consumption by 22 percent by 2025, and for at least 12 percent of the state's energy portfolio to come from renewable sources.
And there is evidence they are working, says Laura Burns, Ohio organizer for the Moms Clean Air Force.
"We had already saved a billion dollars in energy bills for Ohioans in the six years prior to this freeze,” she points out. “And 25,000 jobs – is that not something we would like to continue? It's just so disappointing that we would take a step backward."
Szollosi says clean energy is a $270 billion global industry, and at a time when other states are attracting clean energy jobs, Ohio is missing out.
"It should be unacceptable to communities, and businesses, and folks who like to go to work constructing wind turbines, wind farms, installing solar panels, helping families save money on their monthly electric bill,” he stresses. “That's what's at stake. "
Szollosi adds the standards also reduce emissions that threaten health, wildlife and the environment.