Debate on Ohio’s Energy Efficiency Mandates Continues

The Ohio Chamber again urged the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee to pass Substitute House Bill 114, legislation that would reform Ohio’s energy efficiency mandates and fix Ohio’s rules for wind farm development. The bill’s sixth hearing comes after years of starts and stops to  finally bringing relief to businesses paying the mandates or looking to develop wind energy in the state.

Sub. HB 114 would expand the ability of customers of Ohio’s electric distribution utilities to take advantage of a streamlined process like that created in SB 310 to allow for opting out of a utility’s energy efficiency portfolio plan. The committee added several additional requirements for reports businesses file with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, but the opt-out would be open to many more of Ohio’s businesses, allowing them to take control of their energy efficiency spending. Businesses that opt out of the costs of the mandates would lose access to its benefits, but energy efficiency helps businesses compete best when free enterprise drives investment decisions rather than government mandates.

The second item in Sub. HB 114 supported by the Ohio Chamber is the reasonable adjustment of Ohio’s minimum setback for wind turbines. Changes made in 2014 to Ohio’s wind turbine setback halted development and created uncertainty for businesses looking to invest in Ohio. We have watched the challenge the current law poses to any additional development of wind generation in the state and are concerned with the permanent loss of the multibillion dollar economic development potential these projects have for Ohio and its communities.

The Ohio Chamber has asked for action to reform the energy efficiency mandates since 2013. Costs only continue to grow each year that action is further delayed. Wind developers with an eye on Ohio are likely to grow increasingly skeptical that their capital is welcome in the state. The bill is not perfect, but it brings much needed reform. The Senate should commit to a vote as soon as possible.