ACEEE debunks the myths behind the Ohio bill that would gut efficiency programs

(ACEEE blog, 22 Apr 2019) As the Ohio state legislature holds a hearing tomorrow on a bill that would effectively gut the state’s energy efficiency programs, we want to explain why the bill's special interest supporters are flat out wrong.

House Bill 6 would establish a “Clean Air Program Fund” to support Ohio’s aging nuclear fleet while simultaneously rolling back the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy standards. It would effectively saddle customers with the bill for expensive power plants while eliminating options to control how and when they use energy. Unfortunately, the bill is based on a faulty understanding of energy efficiency. The arguments for the bill simply don’t add up.

MYTH: The Clean Air Program would save customers money.

HB 6 adds a monthly charge to customers’ bills to fund the Clean Air Program, ranging from $2.50 for residential customers to $2,500 for large commercial and industrial customers, but it provides no direct benefits in exchange. In contrast, similarly funded energy efficiency programs save customers money by reducing energy usage and keeping utility system costs down. In 2017, every $1 spent on energy efficiency programs created $2.65 in benefits for Ohio families and businesses. These benefits don’t accrue just for program participants. Instead, energy efficiency is an important low-cost resource for all customers. It helps everyone by keeping costs down. A study by ACEEE found Ohio’s energy savings goals could save customers almost $5.6 billion in avoided energy expenditures and reduced wholesale energy and capacity prices over 10 years of implementation.

MYTH: Energy efficiency is just a tax with no benefits.

Even beyond the utility sector, energy efficiency produces benefits for Ohioans. Efficiency improvements in buildings and industry decrease fossil fuel emissions and air pollution. The reduced emissions could help counties working to improve air quality meet national standards. A recent analysis shows that efficiency is a key tool for reducing emissions for three Ohio counties in particular: Jefferson, Lorain, Butler, and Hamilton. These pollution reductions also have significant impacts on the health of Ohio residents. In fact, ACEEE research found that Ohio is one of the states that could see the biggest health impacts from energy efficiency, saving up to $1.6 billion in avoided health harms. And efficiency is a major job creator in the state, employing almost 80,000 Ohioans. It accounts for 20% of all construction jobs and 24% of all energy sector jobs. HB 6 could completely erase these health and job benefits.

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ACEEE blog, 22 Apr 2019: ACEEE debunks the myths behind the Ohio bill that would gut efficiency programs