CINCINNATI – In 2016, Hamilton County is projected to miss out on enough energy savings to power 16,701 typical Ohio homes, plus the equivalent of 561 new solar rooftops, according to a new Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center report.
The report, entitled “Progress on Hold,” examines the impact of SB 310 – a law that freezes and weakens critical clean energy policies in SB 221, Ohio’s Clean Energy Law – on Cincinnati, other major metropolitan areas, and county-by-county across Ohio.
It also finds that if the freeze is made permanent, the Cincinnati metro area could miss out on solar generation equivalent to 6,956 solar roofs, plus electricity savings worth $431 million at current rates, in the year 2025.
“The message of this report is clear: the costs of rolling back Ohio’s Clean Energy Law are real, and we can count those costs in lost savings on our electric bills, in rooftops that haven’t gone solar, and in climate-altering pollution that we have failed to avoid,” said Adam Rivera, Global Warming Solutions Organizing Director with Environment Ohio.
Passed by Ohio legislators and signed by Governor John Kasich in 2014, SB 310 freezes Ohio’s renewable portfolio standard and energy efficiency standard. SB 310 also ends a requirement that half of all renewable generation occur in-state, and it further weakens Ohio’s energy efficiency standard by giving Ohio utilities credit for unearned efficiency savings.
Key statewide findings from the report include:
- With the freeze in place, Ohio could lose out on enough renewable generation in 2016 to power more than 245,000 Ohio homes for a year – and could miss out on enough solar generation equivalent to more than 6,400 solar roofs statewide in 2016.
- In 2016, the second year of the freeze, Ohioans could miss out on $218 million worth of energy efficiency savings, at current Ohio electric rates. If the legislature were to make the freeze permanent through 2025, Ohioans could miss out on energy savings worth more than $2.5 billion at today’s electricity prices. That is enough to power more than 2 million Ohio households for a year, or 44 percent of all households in the state.
- Cumulatively from 2015 to 2025, Ohio could emit an extra 159 million metric tons of carbon pollution – more than 1.6 times the total carbon dioxide emitted by Ohio electricity generation in all of 2012.
In each of the previous four years, Environment Ohio Research & Policy Center had released a report documenting the successes Ohio’s Clean Energy Law. These reports tallied the energy saved and pollution avoided, and told the stories of residents and businesses that are saving energy and money, thanks to the law.
This year’s report supplements its findings with accounts from Ohio’s clean energy leaders, like Melink Corporation CEO Steve Melink, who are weathering the freeze. Melink notes, “Indianapolis, a city just two hours away in driving time from Columbus and Cincinnati, is one of the largest markets for solar. Here in Ohio we’re saying, ‘Oh, we can’t do it.’ It shows that Ohio is heading backward.”
Critically, the clean energy freeze makes it harder for Ohio to meet federal standards for carbon dioxide emission reductions. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan will be the biggest step ever taken by the U.S. to limit global warming pollution, and the current proposal will require Ohio to achieve a 28 percent reduction in power plant carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt hour of electricity produced by 2030.
A return to the 2008 Clean Energy Law would help bring Ohio into compliance with the Clean Power Plan, and should reduce Ohio’s total carbon emissions by more than one third, the report finds.
“Ohio brought LeBron back. Now we need to bring our clean energy policies back,” said Beth Nagusky, Operations and Policy Director with the League of Conservation Voters. “LCV has launched a petition to ‘Bring Back Clean Energy’ now. Thousands of Ohioans have already called on their legislators and the governor to lift the freeze. The petition can be found at www.lcv.org/ohiocleanenergy.”
Environment Ohio is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization dedicated to clean air, clean water, and open space. For more information, please visit www.environmentohio.org.