Freeze, reform, or leave it be: Where Ohio stands in the energy mandate debate

In the last few months you have heard a lot from the Ohio Chamber on Senate Bill 58. However, a new bill, Senate Bill 310 is in the picture. The purpose of SB 310 is simple: to maintain the status quo for Ohio’s existing renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates while the legislature carefully reviews the costs and benefits of these standards and whether reforms are necessary. This approach is different from SB 58 because SB 58 would immediately make a variety of changes to Ohio’s five-year old energy efficiency standards.

Despite the different approaches in the bills, the dividing lines are the same. Many large energy users and broad-based business groups, including the Ohio Chamber, that support SB 58 also expressed support for SB 310, while many of the same interests opposed to SB 58, such as environmentalists and renewable energy companies, voiced opposition to the new bill.

Ohioans have already paid $1 billion to comply with the current law and with the mandates set to increase annually until 2025, the cost of complying will only climb. That’s why the Ohio Chamber believes employers and the state’s economy would be best served by passing the reforms proposed in SB 58, which are designed to help make energy efficiency more achievable without exponentially increasing the cost to consumers of electricity.

However, SB 310 would provide employers some protection against escalating compliance costs by freezing the benchmarks at their present levels. The chamber believes passing SB 310 is unquestionably preferable to taking no action at all. It is not perfect because it leaves some questions unanswered, including what counts as an energy efficient measure and how best to streamline the “opt-out” process for large energy users, but it is a rational approach to reforming the energy efficiency mandate before Ohio consumers and businesses suffer further.

Senate Public Utilities Committee Chair Bill Seitz indicated that amendments to and a committee vote on SB 310 could happen as soon as the first week of May. Please contact your senator today and urge him/her to support SB 310.

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