House Bill 6, misleadingly called “Creates Clean Air Program, is currently speeding through hearings in the Ohio Senate after being passed in the House. The Senate could vote on it in the next couple of days. The House-passed bill eliminates the renewable energy portfolio standards and the rider that funds Ohio utilities’ energy efficiency programs, including the rebates congregations can receive for energy conservation steps like installing more efficient lighting.

Write to your representatives!

The people to write are the chairs of the Energy and Public Utilities Committee of the Senate and Senate President Larry Obhof.

Senate President Larry Obhof, Obhof@ohiosenate.gov
Senator Steve Wilson, Chair, wilson@ohiosenate.gov
Senator Rob McColley, Co-Chair, mccolley@ohiosenate.gov
Senator Sandra Wilson, Ranking Minority Member, williams@ohiosenate.gov

Here is the letter I wrote:

Dear Chairman Wilson, Vice Chairman Rob McColley, Ranking Minority Member Sandra Williams, and members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Public Utilities,

I am writing as a Christian voter, grandmother, and community advocate to ask you to preserve Ohio’s renewable energy portfolio standards and the rider that funds the energy efficiency program.  Please keep these programs intact as you consider HB 6 and – I hope – amend it. These two programs offer tremendous value in community economic development as well as a way to improve funding for rural schools at zero expense to taxpayers.  HB6, as passed by the House, would destroy these opportunities.

As a volunteer with Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, I attended two of the hearings on the bill in House committees and have been reading testimony. Here are some of the economic points I’ve taken away. I was particularly impressed by the analysis of Ohio State economist Dr. Ned Hill, who detailed the evidence that has caused him to warn “House Bill 6 is a threat to Ohio’s economic future.”

Economic development: Susan Munroe, past President of the Van Wert Area Chamber of Commerce, testified that the Blue Creek Wind Farm is a “drought and flood proof ‘cash crop’” which “delivers $5 million every year in new tax revenue and payments to schools, community organizations, income to landowners, and local supply chain businesses…Renewable energy projects like Blue Creek are the greatest opportunity for economic growth in many rural courthouse communities in Ohio.”

 If HB 6 passes, other rural counties will lose this opportunity.  For example, Innergex plans to begin construction this fall on a wind farm in Brown County that will provide $1.8 million a year in property tax, over 150 local jobs, and hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in lease payments to landowners. HB 6 is scaring off investors.

Reducing poverty: The bill would also eliminate millions Ohio utilities now spend annually on weatherization for the elderly, disabled, and families with children. This program lifts thousands of households off dependence on federal utility assistance, saving taxpayers money. 

Tax base and clean power: Part of the case for First Energy’s nuclear plants is that they don’t generate carbon emissions and are vital to the local tax base.  New wind and solar can increase tax revenue in many more counties. 

Affordable electricity: There is a lot more on a utility bill than the riders. Several energy experts testified that by reducing demand, Ohio’s current energy efficiency program reduces rates for everyone. HB 6 would have the opposite effect. By subsidizing costly nuclear,  “HB 6, if enacted, will hurt Ohio’s economic development by increasing electricity costs, and diminish the reliability of the state’s electric grid,” wrote OSU Professor Ned Hill. His May 8 written testimony to the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee explains why.  Radioactive pollution from the Piketon nuclear facility just forced Zahn’s Corner Middle School to close. The safety risk is a key reason nuclear power is so expensive to build and operate.

Jobs: By 2018, Ohio had 112,486 clean energy jobs, over 81,000 of them in energy efficiency careers. That number is already up 2.5% this year. Let’s not abort the tremendous community economic impact potential of this fast-growing sector of Ohio’s economy.

I’m also appealing to you to act on the basis of your commitment to facts. The direct mail and TV ads which claim HB 6 will lower rates and protect the environment roused Ohio AARP State Director Barbara Sykes to cry foul: “With the amount of money being spent on misleading ads meant to confuse seniors and their families and the continued lack of transparency, the Ohio Clean Air Program is looking pretty dirty.”  

Many thanks for the time and attention you are giving to this crucial policy decision.  Thank you for considering my views.

Yours,
Ariel Miller

Submitted by Ariel Miller, Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming