Mandates matter: Spotlight on Ohio’s energy standards

So much depends on Ohio’s embattled energy standards. So, why have valuable renewable and energy efficiency mandates been frozen until at least 2016? Inside the fight for a greener Ohio.

Ohio’s economy and energy independence depend on attracting investment and enacting wise government mandates. It may seem confounding, then, to learn that Ohio Senate Bill 310 has effectively frozen improvements on energy standards– and some are now arguing that the freeze should continue indefinitely.

The move could scare away new business investments that could create green jobs, while locking customers to the ever-increasing costs of fossil fuels.

For instance, Ohio lost out on the chance to become home to a massive Facebook facility that would be entirely wind-powered.

“Facebook’s commitment to renewable energy is clear. Unfortunately, one can only assume that Ohio’s flawed energy policy hindered its ability to secure Facebook’s billion-dollar investment and the jobs that would have come with it,” said Samantha Williams of the National Resources Defense Council. (Meanwhile, State House Bill 483 seeks to increase costs for wind power projects.)

“SB 310 sent exactly the wrong message that the state needed to send to small businesses and entrepreneurs at a time when the economy was struggling,” said Brian Kaiser, of the Ohio Environmental Council.

Proponents of responsible energy standards point out that energy efficiency programs are entirely cost-effective.

So, if investments are deterred, Ohioans lose out on diverse energy options, and the environment suffers– who wins? Fossil fuel-based energy companies, who want a lock on the market and view clean energy as a threat to business-as-usual.

Lawmakers who support the freeze rely on one paper produced by a group called Strata that suggested that improving energy standards would hurt the state’s economy. (Report authors have testified they received funds from the Koch Brothers, noted critics of clean energy policy.) The infamous lobbying group ALEC is also one of the backers of this setback for a greener Ohio.

Lawmakers continue to debate this issue, and we’ll keep you updated on the news as it develops.

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