March 17, 2021
Fact-Checking Ohio Legislators on Energy Bill Claims
The Ohio legislature needs to create a bill focused on reducing energy waste. Saving energy means saving money and benefits both consumers and the environment.
As an environmental organization, we have a strong belief in consumer protection. We support balanced energy policies that benefit both consumers and the environment.
Therefore, Environmental Law and Policy Center does not support HB 128 in its current form. HB 128, which passed the full house last week, repeals the terrible First Energy nuclear bailout of HB 6, but it doesn’t contain any provisions for energy waste reduction programs. Ohioans need a bill that restores funding to both waste reduction and renewable energy programs.
In order to evaluate HB 128, it’s important to understand what the bill it is supposed to be replacing, HB 6, did and did not do. The sponsors testified that they supported HB 6, “because we felt this was a way to save the nuclear plants and save over 4,000 jobs in the state of Ohio and make sure that we continue to have clean power and a diversified energy portfolio.”
Would HB 6 “Save” Jobs in Ohio? No.
HB 6 did save the jobs at the nuclear plants in a sense, but if the nuclear plants shut down today those jobs would transfer to decommissioning jobs and continue for many years. However, by eliminating the energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, HB 6 eliminated jobs in those industries. Those jobs are equally important to the Ohio economy and the families who rely on them for their income.
Would HB 6 have ensured that Ohio has a diversified energy portfolio? No.
Energy waste reduction programs play critical roles in a diversified and balanced portfolio. HB 6 eliminated those programs and HB 128 does not reinstate them. Even with the flaws that legislators have pointed out with the programs, they still work. Why? Because encouraging consumers to reduce energy usage means utilities need to supply less power, saving money for everyone.
Encouraging consumers to reduce energy usage means utilities need to supply less power, saving money for everyone.
The programs are not perfect and we can do more to protect customers. Hence, ELPC supports tightening up several aspects of the programs, including the following:
- Prohibit utilities from sending out kits or any other measures that customers don’t request;
- Limit the residential plans to measures that reduce energy usage to lighting and cooling/heating, which eliminates discounts on appliances and pool pumps.
- Require the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to hire the auditors that measure program savings;
ELPC also recommends that as part of this process the committee bring in the utilities themselves to answer questions, and regional transmission operator PJM to discuss its position on energy efficiency. We need to encourage Ohio utilities to continue to run programs that reduce energy waste and help make sure the utilities can meet demand at peak times. These programs help the utilities meet demand and help customers save on their bills.
Ohio Can’t Afford the Cost of Climate Impacts
Climate change will continue to bring more extreme weather events, and we must modernize our energy grid to meet these challenges. Recent events in Texas and across the South have shown the dire consequences if we do not.
To build a more resilient grid, Ohio needs a diversified energy portfolio that includes baseload power, energy waste reduction, peak demand, and energy efficiency. When utilities can use smart thermostats to help customers voluntarily reduce usage on the hottest days of summer and coldest days of winter, those very small incremental changes really add up when it comes to grid reliability.
The bottom line is HB 128 is incomplete and it needs new legislation to go along with it that addresses energy waste reduction and renewable energy policies. We can save clean energy jobs and keep Ohio moving forward.