Ohio state senators should take full advantage of an opportunity presented with a bill that would put on hold the scheduled increases to the state’s energy-efficiency standards. Since 2008, Ohio has required utilities to get a certain amount of energy from renewable sources, and forced factories to reduce their electricity usage, with the standards tightening each year.
It will come as no surprise, however, that those rules appear to have negatively affected Ohioans, who ended up paying more and more for their electricity, as the cost to adhere to each year’s new regulations was passed along to them.
With the bill being considered by Ohio’s Senate, a 21-member committee would spend this year and next deliberating whether Ohio should keep the rules frozen at their current standards, loosen them or abolish them completely. In other words, a committee of folks on both sides of the issue will have time to examine whether the rules are relevant and doing more good than harm, or if they are simply an out-dated product of politically correct hysteria.
Among the changes that have taken place in Ohio since 2008 is that utilities are depending more on natural gas than coal, a change that was not anticipated by the original set of rules. Meanwhile, utilities say the energy-efficiency projects required by the rules are expensive, therefore driving up rates. Research to make renewable energy cost-efficient has still not caught up to reality.
What is wrong with freezing the rules that ignored that fact, and giving a committee two years to decide what is best for Ohioans?
“We know how much money has been paid by Ohioans for energy efficiency,” said State Sen. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville. “We have no certainty on the benefits they have recouped from their payments.”
Instead of charging ahead with rules that ignore both the environmental and economic reality in Ohio, lawmakers should do their best to determine what is right for current and future Ohioans without having their hands tied.