For months we’ve been talking about the need to reform Ohio’s costly energy efficiency mandates, ranging from Senate Bill 58, the predecessor to Senate Bill 310, to public opinion around these mandates. Now, the General Assembly is taking action. In line with the concerns of voters, relief from potentially significant electricity cost spikes for Ohio businesses is finally on the horizon with Senate passage last week of SB 310.
The current mandates require annual increases through 2025 in both electricity efficiency and the amount of power generated from renewable sources. Ohioans have already paid nearly a billion dollars to comply with the costly law and forecasts suggest the growing benchmarks mean ratepayers could be paying over $500 million per year by 2020. SB 310 addresses this by suspending increases in the benchmarks for two years and creating an Energy Mandates Study Committee. The committee will conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the mandates, identify an evidence-based standard for reviewing them, and recommend changes for subsequent legislation.
The bill also contains other positive changes that will give employers some protection against escalating compliance costs in the meantime. It permits a variety of activities that save energy to count toward mandate achievement, streamlines the opt-out process for energy-intensive customers, and provides transparency by requiring that electric bills reveal just how much mandate tax they contain. This last point is key because many employers are not aware of this tax, much less how much the rider is costing them. Businesses and consumers can find out how much tax is costing them here.
SB 310 is a necessary step on the path to finding a permanent solution and the Chamber, along with a national audience, is glad to see House quickly move on SB 310. The bill has gone through two committee hearings already this week and Speaker of the House Bill Batchelder has signaled his intent to ensure the bill passes before the end of the month. Meanwhile, Gov. John Kasich issued a supporting statement that underscores how Ohio’s energy mandates are emerging as a challenge to job creation and our economic recovery.
Contact your Representative today to let them know that SB 310 is a critical bill that they must support to ensure Ohio’s consumers do not foot the bill for programs that warrant a second look.