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House Dems: Ohio Legislature threatens job growth with energy standards redo

Bucks leading business movement to renewable energy sources
December 6, 2016
Democrat Newsroom

House Democratic lawmakers today criticized the passage of House Bill (HB) 554, saying legislation that changes the state’s energy efficiency standards to unenforceable “goals” through 2019 will harm consumers and jeopardize thousands of manufacturing and development jobs in Ohio’s advanced energy industry. 

“Ohio has a long and proud history as a leader in the industrial economy. However, as globalism expands and corporations ship more blue collar jobs overseas, we must adapt and invest in advanced technologies to pave the path to economic stability for working families, but this bill sets us back.” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). 

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. 

“The skills and knowledge obtained by Ohio workers in cutting-edge energy technologies puts them at the forefront of an advanced sector of the economy and positions us to compete in the twenty-first century,” Strahorn added. “We owe Ohioans who need good jobs more than outdated policies that discourage new growth.”   

The nation and world’s leading companies are increasingly turning to renewable energy sources to power their businesses. 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. 

“We need to advance Ohio into the future with policies that include strategies for sustainable, renewable energy,” said Democratic Whip Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “House bill 554 is not a solution for Ohioans and actually burdens consumers and businesses. That is why I voted against this bill.” 

“With this step backward, we are shirking our responsibility to fight the critical issue of our time and missing out on a forward-looking opportunity for smart growth and development,” said Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus). “There are over 100,000 clean energy jobs in Ohio. Because of our manufacturing workforce and capacity, we are better situated than almost any other state to take advantage of this clean energy economic boom.” 

Amazon Web Services, Inc., an 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 next May. 

“Ohio is drastically under utilizing its manufacturing sector capabilities, its natural resources and its workforce by continuing to put roadblocks in front of the emerging clean energy industry,” said Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid). “Moving from a carbon based power generation economy to a renewable and clean based economy will not happen overnight. But doing nothing is not an option. This is a fight I will not give up. I am committed to continue working for good jobs and smart economic growth.”    

Thanks to the state energy efficiency standards, Ohio had an opportunity to position itself as a leader in the burgeoning renewable energy industry. The future of the roughly 7,200 Ohio businesses and approximately 89,000 Ohio workers currently supported by Ohio’s clean energy industry is now uncertain following the passage of HB 554. 

“Ohio must look at building a renewable energy portfolio that makes significant investment in future technology,” said Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland). “We need to get to a place where we’re not only providing careers with family sustaining wages and benefits, but also being intentional about protecting the health of communities and the environment. HB 554 is shortsighted and will only hinder Ohio's economic competitiveness in being a global leader in the renewable energy industry. These new standards, or lack thereof, are a missed opportunity to bolster emerging sectors of Ohio’s economy.”