The latest legislative attempt to end Ohio’s renewable energy standards, HB 6, was introduced in April and is speeding towards a vote as early as next week.  Here’s how to register your opinion:  write before Thursday to the Chair of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Rep. A. Nino Vitale, at Energy&NaturalResourcesCommittee@ohiohouse.gov  and to House Speaker Larry Householder at rep72@ohiohouse.gov

You can read testimony on the bill by going to the home page of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and clicking on May 7 and May 8.  I recommend the testimony by John Finnigan, Chief Counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, and David Rinebolt of Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy.

The Episcopal Church has passed many resolutions calling for action on climate change, and is also on record in myriad ways defending poor people, who in Ohio urgently need relief from high utility bills. HB 6 makes the state’s renewable energy standards optional, which stalls momentum on the development of carbon-free, utility-scale solar and wind generation. By making payment of the energy efficiency rider optional, the bill would effectively end or decimate funding for the efficiency programs which have funded rebates and technical assistance equipping Ohioans to reduce their energy consumption, including many Episcopal churches who have received utility rebates under the program to help cover the costs of major retrofits to reduce their electricity use.  In addition, it would stop the funding that has enabled nonprofits like People Working Cooperatively across the state to implement weatherization and other electricity conservation steps for vulnerable low-income families.

The bill would thus halt momentum on programs fostering cheaper electricity (wind is now the cheapest type of generation) and lower utility costs (wind is now the cheapest kind of generation, at 2¢/kWh) and energy conservation.  The bill is misleadingly titled “Creates Ohio Clean Energy Program” which would make utilities eligible to apply for funds for nuclear plants because they generate carbon-free energy.  It’s widely agreed that about half of the money generated would go to help keep First Energy Solution’s two aging nuclear plants operating, at a far higher cost per kWh than wind or solar. The bill would eliminate the clean energy and energy conservation riders on utility bills by making them opt-in, and replace them with a rider on all rateholders to fund the new program. You can learn more in an article by the Cincinnati Enquirer which gives background on First Energy’s quest to get the bill passed.
The Rev. Craig Foster submitted testimony on behalf of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, which has helped many Episcopal congregations and institutions carry out conservation retrofits.  I spoke twice at hearings as a volunteer for Ohio Interfaith Power and Light begging the committee to preserve the energy efficiency program because it equips the poor to reduce their energy consumption and helps all consumers get cheaper electricity. Testimony against the bill has been overwhelmingly negative (over 70 opponent statements last week compared to only 2 in support of the bill).
Many industry groups oppose HB 6, but it could still pass due to strong support from House leadership, some of whom have received significant contributions from First Energy PAC.  This article (Flurry Of Ad Spending Targets House Energy Bill Debate) from Gongwer News Service (which covers Ohio public policy) explains the misleading ads for HB 6 in Ohio media markets, including West Virginia media markets that include Southern Ohio communities.
Submitted by Ariel Miller