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Smith: Advanced energy standards repeal threatens jobs, growth, stability

March 30, 2017
Kent Smith News

State Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid) today criticized the passage of House Bill (HB) 114, saying legislation that changes the state’s advanced energy standards to unenforceable “goals” will harm consumers and jeopardize thousands of manufacturing and development jobs in Ohio’s advanced energy industry and other industries that increasingly want and rely on advanced energy sources. 

“My GOP colleagues have sent Ohio backward by rolling back our state's renewable energy mandates,” said Smith. “By not passing my amendment in support of Ohio's wind energy sector, the Republican chamber continues to maintain an artificial market barrier that stifles Ohio's wind industry, therefore depriving our state of potentially $3.4 billion dollars’ worth of economic activity. This legislation is short-sighted and harmful to both present-day Ohioans and our future generations.”  

The nation and world’s leading companies are increasingly turning to advanced energy sources to power their businesses. On Tuesday, global home furnishing retailer Ikea announced it has completed a 213,000 square foot solar array on its soon-to-open store in central Ohio, one of the largest such arrays in the state. 

Some of the largest corporate brands – including Apple, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Facebook, General Motors, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble, Starbucks, Walmart and more – have all publicly pledged to procure 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by a certain date in the near future. 

Amazon Web Services, Inc., an Amazon.com subsidiary, recently announced plans to build a $300 million wind farm in Hardin County, Ohio, in addition to their 100-megawatt wind farm in nearby Paulding County that is expected to start producing electricity this May. 

In addition to changing the state’s energy efficiency standards to goals, HB 114 also allows corporations to bypass additional charges on Ohio consumers from utility companies designed to recoup the cost of advanced energy. 

Ohio’s energy efficiency standards were originally passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2008. According to various reports, the standards have since saved consumers over $1 billion in energy costs, helped create thousands of jobs in the state’s advanced energy industry, and were on track to reduce an estimated 23 million tons of annual carbon pollution by 2029, helping prevent thousands of lost work days, asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature deaths. Just this week, a new report showed that Ohio gained more than 1,000 jobs related to solar power alone in 2016, though that rate of growth ranks slightly below the national average. 

Due to the state energy efficiency standards, Ohio had an opportunity to position itself as a leader in the burgeoning renewable energy industry. Roughly 7,200 businesses and approximately 89,000 workers are directly employed in Ohio’s clean energy sector.