A wind- and solar-energy advocacy group released a report last monthclaiming Ohio’s freeze of renewable energy and energy efficiency standards is damaging the industry. Environmental Entrepreneurs, which sponsored the report, is demanding lawmakers lift the freeze. But their position is hardly convincing.
Ohio Senate Bill 310 put a two-year freeze on state clean energy standards enacted in 2008, which required utilities to cut customers’ power usage by 22 percent and get 25 percent of their power from renewable and advanced technology energy sources.
Lobbyists for the renewables industry are calling that freeze a mistake, and crying about the damage done. They say it has put Ohio’s clean energy industry into “a tailspin.”
While it is true solar and wind energy have not yet made themselves a viable, financially sound alternative to coal-fired power plants – without the help of massive government subsidies – their industry has hardly suffered while lawmakers try to do what is right for Ohio.
According to Gail Parson, Midwest advocate for Environmental Entrepreneurs, “There are now 89,000 Ohioans working in the clean energy field at 7,200 companies in the state.”
In fact, the whining about damage to the industry has included the statistic that job growth in the renewable energy sector in Ohio has slowed to only 1.5 percent, in 2014. Slow growth is still growth.
Meanwhile, National Mining Association statistics show that in 2003, West Virginia had 24,488 coal mining jobs, but in 2013, there were 20,751. In Ohio, there were 3,761 coal mining jobs in 2003. By 2013, there were 3,143. As of Friday, the numbers were even higher after Murray Energy and Alpha Natural Resources announced they were laying off 2,268 people or eliminating their positions.
See any growth there?
If renewable energy advocates are looking for sympathy because they have not experienced the explosive growth to which they believed they were entitled, with the help of government, they should look elsewhere. Ohio lawmakers were correct in attempting to slow the bleeding in the coal industry caused by the war on coal and affordable electricity. And, of course, they were right to refuse to force consumers to pay more for alternative energy. Legislators should ignore this shameless plea for more legislative shoring-up of an industry that has not yet proved its worth.
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