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Ohio Signs Nation's First Anti-Renewable Energy Bill Into Law

Ohio Signs Nation's First Anti-Renewable Energy Bill Into Law
Wed, 6/18/2014 - by Lindsay Abrams
This article originally appeared on Salon

Gov. John Kasich just signed into a law a bill that freezes Ohio’s renewable energy mandate for the next two years, making Ohio the first state to make negative progress on its green energy goals. Good job, Ohio.

As Salon reported last month when the state House of Representatives first approved the bill, SB 310 removes the requirement, first set in 2008, for utilities to add renewables to their energy mix. It sounded like a good idea then — it passed almost unanimously — and has done pretty well for Ohio since: clean energy’s brought 25,000 jobs and at least $1 billion in private sector investment, and cut electricity rates by 1.4 percent, resulting in over $230 million in cumulative savings.

Unfortunately for jobs, savings and the environment, conservative, libertarian and Koch-affiliated groups like the Heartland Institute, Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council have made renewables a political target.

“These green energy mandates are bad policy,” Christine Harbin Hanson, a spokeswoman for Americans for Prosperity, told the L.A. Times back in April, referring to similar legislation in Kansas. “State governments are starting to wake up.”

Gabe Elsner, executive director of the pro-renewables Energy and Policy Institute, sees it a bit differently. “The fossil fuel and utility industry has been caught off guard by the rise of cheap, clean energy, and over the past 18 months they’ve responded in a really big way across the country,” he told the New York Times. “We’re seeing the results of that campaign now in Ohio.”

Meanwhile, Katie Valentine reported for ThinkProgress:

Gov. Kasich signed Senate Bill 310 after months of heated debate over the bill, which was backed by some of Ohio’s manufacturers but opposed by others, including Honda and Whirlpool. The measure will freeze the state’s renewable energy standard and energy efficiency program at 2014 levels for two years, during which time a committee will study how the standard impacts the state and whether or not further changes should be made. Currently, Ohio’s RES stipulates that the state’s utilities must get 12.5 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025.

Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, now President of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, signed Ohio’s RES into law after itpassed the House and Senate almost unanimously in 2008. He told ThinkProgress in May that he doesn’t agree with the push to freeze the RES.

“Let me be clear, this vote does not represent a compromise, it represents a giveaway to utility companies and the end of Ohio’s leadership in the renewable energy industries,” Strickland said.

“When I signed SB 221 into law it put consumers on a level playing field with the utility companies. It was legislation developed over months of bipartisan discussions about how to create jobs in an emerging industry and position Ohio as a national leader in the production of renewable energy. It has been working — jobs are being created, investments are being made, and rate-payers are saving money.”

Ohio groups rallied against S.B. 310 in the months leading up to its signature. In May, Ohio faith leaders called on the governor to veto the bill, citing their concern that a weakened RES could harm God’s creation. Ohio residents also supported the state’s standards: A poll released last month by the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy found 72 percent of respondents were in favor of the renewable energy standards.

According to a report by the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, the standards also led to significant savings for Ohioans. From 2009 to 2013, the RES saved Ohio residents $1.03 billion and cost $456 million, according to the report. The group also noted that many Ohio utilities praised the standards for their savings and job-creating potential.

American Electric Power Ohio, for instance, said energy efficiency programs have been “an important resource for the state of Ohio, AEP Ohio, and its customers, continuing to be important as future fuel and commodity prices remain volatile and environmental regulations become more stringent.”

Comments

I hate Republicans

I do too.

The Teapublicans are the Devil's Army, always up to mischief.

They are truly evil.

Go Green! and Never Go Back!

Investment in energy efficiency saves money in two ways. A good way, and a not so good way.

One way is through less energy use, meaning less fuel is burned by generators, so there is less fuel to pay for by generators and consumers. This benefit is a long term benefit of energy efficiency.

But the other way is merely an indirect effect of reduced energy consumption, which is to cause temporary oversupply of energy in the market. This oversupply can cause energy prices to fall below generation costs. The savings for consumers resulting from such low prices are temporary and should not mistaken for a permanent benefit resulting from energy efficiency. Eventually, energy supply and demand will match up again and these savings for the consumer will turn out to be temporary and illusory. They cannot be counted on in the long term.

Renewable energy investments work to reduce energy costs similarly. The difference is that the market distorting effect is greater. While efficiency measures tend to reduce fuel consumption all the time, renewable energy investments only reduce fuel consumption while the sun shines or the wind blows. Therefore, it not only indirectly causes market oversupply, but also market distortion. In extreme cases - in countries which have heavily invested in wind and solar - the price of electricity can actually become zero or even negative! These low energy costs should not be mistaken for a beneficial effect of mandated or subsidized renewable energy investment. It is in fact a negative effect, because such market distortion will eventually need to be repaired, and the costs of that repair will be allocated to consumers.

So this article is misleading. Mandated renewable energy investment cannot reduce energy bills. It only seems that way due to the temporary price effects of the market oversupply and the market distortion resulting from enforced renewable energy investment.

People who want the government to stimulate renewable energy investment should not be fooled into thinking that this will save them money. That should not be the reason for people to stimulate renewable energy. Renewable energy should be stimulated for its beneficial effects on technological development and/or environment protection. But there are no economic benefits to be had. Pretending that there are also economic benefits of enforced renewables investment is pointless and ultimately counterproductive.

Someone *will* be stuck with the bill. The important political question is who that will be, and whether that is fair.

“These green energy mandates are bad policy,” Christine Harbin Hanson, a spokeswoman for Americans for Prosperity, told the L.A. Times back in April, referring to similar legislation in Kansas. “State governments are starting to wake up.”

I really wish the author of this article would elaborate on Hanson's above comments. I am a huge proponent of green energy. What are the arguments they have against it? Yes, all Republicans are beholden to the fossil fuel industry. But what are the reasons to JUSTIFY it or do they admit they only reason they do it is because of campaign contributions.

Sounds like Americans for Prosperity are backed by the Utility industry.

Americans for Prosperity is a high powered conservative lobbying group with Koch brothers backing (amongst others). The actual website has many heart warming photos and emphasizes small workshops on how to grow your own vegetables, use coupons to save money, work hard to pay off debt, etc. The very first thing I saw was a pop-up asking how much I wanted to donate to the cause of promoting "freedom". Freedom being short-hand for no restrictions on businesses and corporations.

I have no vested interests but you are making a huge mistake if you believe wind farms can do some good. They don't work and cannot be made to work. Wind farms are net consumers of electricity when properly measured over one year. Check out valmartinyoutube myth about wind energy and the Irish Energy Blog. Also check the Bentek studies.

Of course wind farms don't return a profit after 1 year. That's shortsighted. They have to exist for at least three years before they yield results. Your argument is moronic.

Wow Ohio is taking steps back instead of forward.

Another way renewable energy saves money is the decrease in pollution improves a lot common major health problems.

That's how Ivy League schooled Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party wound up a retired physician against polution.

But the Greens don't take money from corporations, so what do they know, right?

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