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Ohio Turns Its Back, Thumbs Its Nose At Energy Efficiency


Ohio Statehouse

Ohio Statehouse

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This past Friday the 13th proved to be particularly unlucky for renewable-energy advocates in Ohio.

That was the day the state legislature passed SB 310, a bill to halt the expansion of Ohio's energy-efficiency resource standard, which encourages the use of renewable energy.

Ohio governor John Kasich signed the bill the same day.

wind farm

wind farm

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This new legislation essentially counteracts Ohio SB 221, which was passed in 2008 and established the efficiency standard.

That's the argument made by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), which lays out the case against SB 310 in a new blog post.

The D.C.-based advocacy group claims rule changes will make it too easy to for utilities to skirt genuine improvements in energy efficiency, calling the bill a "hostile and systematic destruction" of the efficiency standards established six years ago.

The ACEEE post goes on to list what it calls "specific 'poison pill' provisions that weaken, and collectively effectively demolish" the policies set in 2008, although the bill's backers have presented the act as only as "pause" in improving Ohio's energy mix.

The new bill allows utilities to count improvements made by their own customers, for instance, as well as rolling over any savings above a given target into the next year as credits.

The ACEEE also argues that the new rules make it too easy for large utility customers to opt out of energy-efficiency programs, potentially damaging the cost-effectiveness of these programs.

The bill passed, the group says, despite intense opposition from a remarkable coalition that included "business, environmental, consumer advocates, faith groups, local government" and the general public.

Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]

Tesla Store Los Angeles [photo: Misha Bruk / MBH Architects]

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Renewable energy isn't the only green technology that's been having trouble in Ohio, either

The state has become a battleground in the war between Tesla Motors and car-dealer associations (right up to the National Auto Dealers Association) threatened by its direct sales model.

Ohio car dealers challenged Tesla's compliance with state laws, and have twice introduced legislation to ban retail sales by automakers outright.

Ohio's about-face comes just as Federal regulators are taking aim at coal-fired electric power plants.

While the Buckeye State may have turned its back on energy efficiency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is drafting rules to cut the emissions of more than 600 coal-fired plants.

The regulation would propose cutting carbon emissions from these plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030.

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