As climate change and other environmental issues gain more momentum, it is clear that renewable energy sources (RES) are needed to help protect the environment and the health of others. As energy consumers and greenhouse gas emitters, using environmentally friendly electricity – which comes from renewable energy sources – is crucial, not just for the environment, but for the economy as well.
In 2008, the state of Ohio implemented Senate Bill 221 in order to use renewable energy sources to help reduce electricity prices. Now, a different legislation, SB 310 aims to put Ohio’s RES standards on hold.
The bill “would not allow the renewable energy that’s already been created to flourish and continue to grow the industry,” said Sierra Club Ohio Chapter’s Conservation Program Coordinator, Samantha Allen. “There are about 25,000 jobs that rely on these renewable energy and energy efficiency standards…Those jobs would be in jeopardy.”
Senator Bill Seitz (R-OH) stated that SB 310 would create a study committee that would evaluate the progress of the state’s RES standards and decide if changes need to be made. Sen. Seitz also noted that the discovery of large quantities of natural gas in Ohio is cheaper than the mandated sources of electricity required in the 2008 bill.
“There’s been many studies done by separate entities and the Public Utilities Commission here in Ohio that shows that [RES standards] doesn’t raise rates, it actually saves consumers’ money,” added Allen.
Ohio PUC’s August 2013 report shows that the addition of renewable energy sources is reducing the amount of wholesale cost of power in the state while simultaneously decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide emissions.
The study found that for renewable projects that were already operational, the wholesale prices were reduced by about 0.15 percent, while wholesale prices from projected power from all projects that have been approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board, decreased by approximately 0.51 percent.
Since the 2008 RES standards required the state to increase the amount of renewable energy sources – up to 12.5 percent by 2025 – it is concluded that the savings will also increase as time goes on.
Opponents of the SB 310 bill are also arguing that a time out on the state’s RES mandates is also a threat on national security.
“…If we have energy sources that are coming from outside the United States, this affects our military and where they’re going and protecting and giving their lives for,” said Allen. “If we have renewable energy here in the state and in America, we can actually produce our own energy and not have to send our troops somewhere to protect something that we could just be producing here in the state.”
Allen also noted that a study committee that analyzes the progress of the RES standards since 2008 seems out of place since there are already studies that show the cost-effectiveness of renewable energy sources.
“There is a safe built into the original RES standards that allows the utilities to not comply with the benchmark if the rates start increasing over a certain amount, and that has not happened yet,” said Allen. “Utilities have done nothing but comply. That’s important to know.”