Less than four years ago the 127th Ohio General Assembly enacted an AIA-Ohio endorsed law setting energy standards for the state. On February 1 hearings opened to a largely responsive Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee on a proposal to undo the alternative energy requirements contained in SB221, which enacted the state’s current energy policy into law, by, as sponsor of SB216 Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Powell) said, “getting rid of solar and wind requirements.
He indicated in answer to questions from a number of committee members that “the last thing we need to do in Ohio is drive up the cost of energy for both our families and businesses.” Jordan went on to say, “by mandating that 25 percent of our state’s energy come from advanced and renewable resources by 2025, the AEPS [Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard] does just that.”
He explained that the law requires “that 12.5 percent of all energy produced come from advanced sources, such as clean coal, advanced nuclear and combined cycle natural gas” — a requirement that is not phased although the 12.5 percent required to come from renewable sources such as wind and solar is phased in between 2009 and 2025.
“A study of this mandate by the Beacon Hill Institute showed that this portfolio standard would cost Ohioans $8.629 billion on their electric bills between 2016 and 2025, with nearly $1.5 billion of that cost coming in 2025 alone.” Jordan went on to say that will cost 10,000 jobs over the decade.
“Competition is the fuel for efficiency and cost savings and I believe that SB221 needs to be revisited to ensure competitive energy pricing for our constituents. If renewable energy sources are bound to succeed, they will, and they will do so without an injection of taxpayer dollars or mandates.
“In my view, no resource or technology should be mandated and subsidized to survive.”
He added that, ” … no amount of well-intentioned taxpayer money can make the wind blow” nor is there necessarily a market for the energy, citing findings from the Massachusetts utility NSTAR which found that fewer than 1 percent of its customers chose to purchase their electricity from wind and solar sources — at “anywhere from 15 to 30 percent” additional cost.
Asked about the “green” jobs created since these requirements went into place, Jordan called into question a Brookings Institute study that placed the number at 100,000, telling the committee that by his reckoning only 2,000 were actually from renewable energy efforts.
“I’d rather keep the 10,000 jobs we would be losing if these standards stay place rather than subsidize 2,000 jobs.”
Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) commented that the 3 percent cost cap included in 127-SB221 has not turned out to be 3 percent because of the way it is interpreted.
Seitz also added that a benefit of repealing these standards now means it would be before companies enter into long-term contracts that “they will be on the hook for” if action is taken later. “It is important to relieve them of the mandates before they are locked into contracts they can’t get out of,” he added.
Also supporting the legislation was Sen. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) who called Jordan “courageous” for taking the issue on. He referenced the four power plants First Energy has just announced it is shutting down, resulting in the loss of 400 jobs. (See The Hannah Report, 1/26/12.)
Sen. Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) asked if Jordan would be willing to look at the energy efficiency standards, with Jordan saying he would consider doing so.
Some energy-related interests are watching for energy-policy changes in Gov. John Kasich’s upcoming mid-biennium budget review.