Warnings Ohio’s renewable energy mandate would cost consumers dearly were dismissed by proponents of the law, who insisted “going green” would create new jobs and benefit most Buckeye State residents.
But now, job losses and higher electric bills are a reality – and they can be traced directly to government attempts to shift power generation away from coal.
A 2008 Ohio law requires utilities doing business in the state to provide at least 25 percent of the electricity for consumers from “advanced” and “renewable” sources such as wind and solar generation by 2025. Compliance, being phased in, jeopardizes coal-fired power plants that provide economical electricity to households and businesses.
But utilities desiring to avoid fines for failure to comply can purchase credits from other firms that already possess alternative generating capacity. Earlier this summer an investigation found two utilities serving northeast Ohio had paid millions of dollars for such credits needlessly. The cost was passed on to consumers.
Job losses already are occurring right here in the Ohio Valley, as coal mines close or reduce production because of lack of demand for their product. Several utilities already have announced plans to close coal-fired power plants and change to natural gas.
A study by the Beacon Hill Institute of Boston concluded that if the so-called “25 by 25” mandate remains in place, it will cost Ohio consumers $8.6 billion in higher electric bills between 2016-25. Another study warned the rule could cost the state more than 9,700 jobs.
A bill introduced in the General Assembly a few weeks ago would scrap the renewable-advanced energy requirement. It has become clear legislators should kill the mandate.