Ohio’s alternative energy mandate has been placed back on the table for possible termination, while its defenders question how anyone could ignore the benefits this legislation has provided Ohio in job creation, energy security and cost savings.
Attacks on Ohio’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), which stipulates that retail electricity providers generate a quarter of their power from alternative energy sources, have come from conservative policy groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and think tanks reporting skewed statistics. The AEPS is well-crafted as an “all-of-the-above” framework that includes in its scope of alternative energy sources renewables like solar and wind as well as modern, high-efficiency plants using coal, gas, nuclear and municipal waste. Moreover, it has successfully created new, in-state jobs and brought new life to Ohio’s manufacturing sector.
We ought not to play dirty politics with our energy future. To understand how the AEPS is making a positive impact in Ohio, let’s turn to the facts.
How the AEPS Works
In 2008, Ohio adopted the AEPS to increase power generation from more efficient, sustainable sources. The AEPS requires utilities in state to provide a quarter (25%) of power from “alternative energy” resources by 2025. Of that quarter, 12.5% percent will come from renewable technologies and 12.5% from alternative technologies that increase the electricity output of traditional power plants without increasing their emissions. Producing more output (in our case, power) with less wasted input (fuel, heat) is a win-win for business and the environment. In cases where a utility fails to meet its target for the year, renewable energy credits (RECs) can be purchased to make up the difference, or utilities can make alternative compliance payments.
The AEPS Benefits Ohio in a Big Way
Its critics contend that a mandate forcing utilities to produce cleaner and more efficient power will cost Ohio jobs and cost its consumers big dollars. On the contrary, groups like The Environmental Law and Policy Center found reasons to cheer Ohio’s wave of new alternative energy projects. Their 2012 study shows that wind and solar supply chains have accounted for more than 10,000 jobs and have contributed to the growth of nearly 200 new businesses in Ohio over the last five years. Statistics from the Ohio Public Utilities Commission show that during the lifetime of the AEPS, over 1,000 renewable energy projects have been built – projects that have brought hundreds of millions of dollars in investments to Ohio.
As Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn of the American Council On Renewable Energy, stated in a recent Politico article, “state RPS policies haven’t only been effective at saving or stabilizing electricity bills for consumers against the volatile prices of fossil fuel, they have also leveraged over $100 billion in private investments in various state renewable energy projects.” To add to the success of new generation sources, the AEPS has also triggered energy efficiency programs through the state utilities that have produced almost $1 billion in net savings for Ohio ratepayers.
Finally, the perception that there are deep political divisions in public support of the growth of renewables is a false and counterproductive one. A recent Gallup poll confirms that bipartisan support for energy production from renewable and more efficient sources is strong – two out of three Americans want the U.S. to put more emphasis on generation from solar power (76%), wind (71%) and natural gas (65%). Ohio’s proven success with its AEPS stands as a testament to how support for these energy sources can spur investment, job creation, and innovation with the bonus of improved energy security and environmental sustainability.
Britt Shaw is putting her passion for energy and the environment to work as a Communications and Research Intern at ACORE. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2012 with a degree in Science, Technology and International Affairs. In the coming years, she plans to pursue a career dealing with clean energy technologies from the industry side.