Ohio Chamber Supports Bill That Promotes Consumer Energy Choice

Earlier this week, the Ohio Chamber testified in support of House Bill 201, which would pre-empt local governments from banning the use of natural gas.

House Bill 201 creates safeguards for commercial and residential energy users’ access to natural gas by preventing local governments from limiting or banning the fuel source. More importantly, this HB 201 protects customers’ ability to choose what mix of energy sources works best for their needs.

Energy policy is of statewide concern since all Ohioans depend on reliable, affordable energy. Local level go-it-alone policies could undermine the entire state’s competitive standing and hinder our state’s diverse portfolio of energy sources because we constantly compete against other states, many of which are in the process of passing legislation to HB 201. The Ohio Chamber has been a consistent proponent when it comes to advocating for energy policies that promote a diverse portfolio regulated at the state-level. HB 201 would stop the development of a cumbersome patchwork of local ordinances that would deter investment opportunities in our state by sending mixed messages to companies looking to invest in Ohio about the importance of clean, affordable and abundant natural gas.

Banning natural gas in residential and commercial buildings would have a negative impact on Ohio’s economy, businesses and families. The American Gas Association completed a study last summer that shows Columbus, Ohio residential and commercial customers would face much higher costs without natural gas in the mix. Between 2021 and 2040, the region’s customers would pay $7.4 billion more for equipment, installation, maintenance and in utility bills with having electricity as their only choice. The higher costs would be approximately 31.2 times higher than the valuation of the benefits.

The effect that these bans have deny businesses and homeowners the service they need, want, and most commonly use to power their lives, heat their homes and run their operations. Limiting energy choice would effectively be forcing businesses and homeowners to replace the appliances they want to use –grills, hot water heaters, fireplaces, fryers and furnaces—with less efficient and more costly ones.

By prohibiting local governments from interfering in consumer choice, HB 201 will protect retail establishments, manufacturers, consumers and, ultimately, our state’s overall economic competitiveness by allowing Ohioans to decide what fuel sources best suit their needs. The Ohio Chamber looks forward to this bill moving quickly through the legislative process and ultimately becoming law.