COLUMBUS–State Reps. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) and Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) issued a statement after the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) held the first meeting Wednesday of its ongoing review into why AEP decided to shut off power to thousands of homes after severe storms and a heatwave swept through Central Ohio in late June. During the meeting, AEP expressed that climate change contributed to the extreme weather that caused the outage. Reps. Weinstein and Brent renewed their calls for the legislature to take action on the Energy Jobs and Justice Act, their comprehensive clean energy policy that would promote energy equity, lower carbon emissions and create utility accountability and transparency.
“Ohio is already suffering the human and economic costs of climate change. We can’t afford any more piecemeal approaches or to continue to come up against utility-sponsored roadblocks. The Energy Jobs and Justice Act would build a comprehensive energy policy around equitable solutions that are good for our economy, our communities and our health,” said Rep. Weinstein.
“Our communities deserve fresh air to breathe, clean water to drink and access to renewable energy options that help us all fight climate change, while saving money on our bills. The Energy Jobs and Justice Act would ensure that Ohio finally has clean energy policy that reduces carbon emissions and confronts historical injustices and harms aimed Black, Indigenous and other communities of color across the state,” said Rep. Brent.
Utility reports filed at the end of March 2022 listed 16 calendar days in 2021 with major outage events linked to wind or thunderstorms. All told, more than 900,000 Ohio utility customers lost power during major weather-related outages last year. Climate experts predict Ohio will see more days with conditions that often set the stage for storms.
The Energy Jobs and Justice Act combats climate change by centering on three primary policy pillars—equity, transparency and carbon emissions reduction—and would do the following:
Launch the state’s largest economic development initiative in recent history by prioritizing clean energy jobs and environmental justice programs;
Center equitable policy design to ensure clean energy benefits go to those most historically and disproportionately harmed by Ohio’s regressive energy policies;
Move Ohio towards a more equitable clean energy future by encouraging clean energy growth, energy waste reduction and curbing utility influence over policymaking and regulatory actions.
HB 429 awaits further hearings in the House Public Utilities Committee.