New report tracks clean energy successes as Senate debates dirty energy bill
COLUMBUS – Four years in, Ohio’s Clean Energy Law continues to spur investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency, according to Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center’s latest report, Ohio’s Clean Energy Success Story, Year 4. Environment Ohio was joined by several clean energy developers in releasing the report which showcases the law’s benefits in the Buckeye State.
“The Clean Energy Law is getting results for the Buckeye State,” said Christian Adams, Environment Ohio State Associate. “Four years in, Ohio’s Clean Energy Law is reducing pollution, cutting our dependence on coal and gas, creating jobs, and saving Ohioans money.”
The report authors found that between January 2009 when the Clean Energy Law (SB221) took effect and December 2012, Ohio’s Clean Energy Law has resulted in 5 million megawatt-hours of cumulative energy savings, more than enough electricity to power Cincinnati, Cleveland and Dayton for a year, and has reduced peak electricity demand by 1,583 Megawatts – the equivalent capacity of Ohio’s sixth-largest power plant. In addition, 313 MW of wind power and 25 MW of solar energy were added in 2012, which could produce more power than Dayton households use in a year.
The Clean Energy Law has worked to attract significant investments to Ohio. Dan Litchfield is a Senior Business Developer with Iberdrola Renewables. “We decided to shift our focus to Ohio from Indiana primarily because of the passage of SB 221. We knew the law would create a market for clean energy that we could compete for.” Litchfield was a lead project developer for the Blue Creek Wind Farm – a 304 MW project that came online in June 2012 and at its peak employed more than 1,200 workers. “We are looking forward to further investment in the State and hopefully a higher percentage of Ohio labor now that there are some firms with wind energy construction experience.”
Passed in 2008, Ohio’s Clean Energy Law established benchmarks for Ohio Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) to get 12.5 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and save 22 percent of their electricity through energy efficiency by 2025. At least half of the renewable energy required must be purchased from in-state projects. According to the Ohio Public Utilities Commission, Ohio received 78 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants last year.
According to Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center’s report, in 2012, for the first time since the Clean Energy Law came into effect, FirstEnergy, Duke Energy, Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) and American Electric Power (AEP) all met the law’s energy efficiency, peak demand reduction and renewable energy requirements in 2012, delivering on the promise of clean energy for Ohio.
Ohio’s Utilities have launched an array of creative programs to update old technologies with new energy saving devices, delivering long-term energy savings to their customers and helping the Buckeye State transition away from its reliance on dirty energy sources. Several programs highlighted in the report include:
- DP&L’s Lighting Program that distributed more than 1.7 million high-efficiency lighting fixtures to customers and saved enough energy to power more than 6,759 Ohio homes for a year at a cost of 3.8 cents per kilowatt-hour – one third the retail cost of electricity in Ohio.
- Appliance recycling programs, which offer financial incentives to unplug and recycle old energy-inefficient appliances, run by all four of Ohio’s investor owned utilities recycled a total of 21,899 inefficient refrigerators, 5,698 freezers, and 823 room air conditioners in 2012.
- AEP’s Prescriptive Business Program, which targets institutions to deliver big savings by providing incentives to reduce up-front costs of pre-approved energy efficient equipment, aided 35 Ohio hospitals save more than 40,000 Megawatt-hours of electricity over the past three years.
- AEP’s Renewable Energy Technology Program provided incentives for 166 small renewable energy installations between July 2011 and June 2013, while the renewable energy standards established by the Clean Energy Law is driving the development of wind and solar energy across the state.
- In 2012, Ohio added the 304 MW Blue Creek Wind Farm, in part because FirstEnergy agreed to purchase renewable energy credits from the project in order to meet their buy-Ohio renewable energy requirements.
SB221 is also advancing manufacturing in Ohio. “The clean energy standard has helped create a state market for the U.S.’s largest solar module manufacturer in Perrysburg and helped grow several other solar module manufacturers in NW Ohio. It has helped create many, many new jobs, not only in manufacturing but also in project design, installation, and service,” said Dr. Al Compaan, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Toledo, who now runs a small solar energy research and development firm in Toledo. “Ohio should now increase its renewable benchmarks, as some other states have done, and boost further growth of our clean energy businesses.”
Ohio’s Clean Energy Success Story, Year 4 comes as Ohio lawmakers debate a new energy bill that would seriously weaken the renewable energy and energy efficiency standards set by Ohio’s Clean Energy Law. Senate Bill 58, introduced by Public Utilities Committee Chairman Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) proposes to alter significant portions of the Clean Energy Law, including expanding the ability of large industrial energy users to exempt themselves from the law’s efficiency requirements and eliminating the buy-Ohio component of the renewable energy standard. Senate Bill 58 is opposed by a coalition of consumer groups, environmental organizations, and trade associations including the Ohio’ Manufacturers Association (OMA), AARP, Ohio Consumers’ Council, and Environment Ohio.
“The Clean Energy Law’s proven track record in delivering energy savings and spurring renewable energy development in Ohio show that the law is working as intended. Senate Bill 58 would take Ohio back to the ‘bad old days’ of wasteful energy use and overreliance on dirty energy sources,” added Adams.
Environment Ohio is urging Governor John Kasich to veto any version of the bill that crosses his desk this fall. The bill is expected to be voted out of committee this week and according to statehouse sources could come up for a vote before the end of the year.
The full report can be found online at: http://environmentohio.org/reports/ohe/ohios-clean-energy-success-story-…
Environment Ohio is a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy organization dedicated to clean air, clean water, and open spaces.