Ohio’s Clean Energy Programs Save Customers $2 For Every $1 They Spend

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"Ohio’s Clean Energy Programs Save Customers $2 For Every $1 They Spend"

An $11 million solar panel canopy covers the parking lot across from the entrance to The Cincinnati Zoo.

An $11 million solar panel canopy covers the parking lot across from the entrance to The Cincinnati Zoo.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Al Behrman

Energy efficiency standards in Ohio that have been facing attacks from state lawmakers provide significant consumer savings relative to their costs, according to an Ohio-based clean energy organization.

From 2009 through 2013, the standards saved Ohio residents $1.03 billion and cost $456 million, according to reports from the Public Utility Commission of Ohio analyzed by the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy.

Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, which were signed into law in 2008, require “alternative energy” — including advanced nuclear power and “clean coal” — to make up 25 percent of investor-owned utilities’ electricity supply by 2025, and stipulate that half of that 25 percent must come from from renewable sources such as wind and hydropower. The law makes it so that utilities must meet yearly benchmarks for renewable energy and efficiency, but a proposed bill from the Ohio Senate would freeze the standards at their 2014 levels.

“The utility companies’ own numbers demonstrate that on average, every dollar that has been spent on energy efficiency programs has resulted in two dollars in savings for Ohio consumers,” Ted Ford, president and CEO of Ohio Advanced Energy Economy said in a statement. “It defies all logic that Ohio lawmakers would be tempted to do away with this kind of success.”

The Ohio Advanced Energy Economy also found that utilities praised the standards for their savings and ability to create jobs. American Electric Power Ohio said that 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.”

However, AEP Ohio still thinks that costs will need to rise if the utility is to meet its benchmarks by 2025, a spokesperson told the Columbus Dispatch. This expectation of rising costs is why Republican lawmakers in the Senate proposed S.B. 310, the bill that would freeze the standards at their 2014 level. Supporters of the bill hope it will pass through the state legislature in the next month.

But despite lawmakers’ and utilities’ worries of higher costs, other analyses have found benefits to the renewable energy and efficiency standards, too. A report by the Ohio State University found that the standards have saved ratepayers 1.4 percent on electricity bills since 2008, and has helped contribute to a 2.6 percent decrease in electricity demand. The report also found that total renewable electricity generation increased by 64 percent since 2008, and that the efficiency law created 3,200 jobs from 2008 to 2012. The standards also have the support of Ohioans — a poll released earlier this month by the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy also found that 72 percent of respondents support Ohio’s energy standards.

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