COLUMBUS — House Democratic lawmakers today criticized the passage of House Bill (HB) 114, saying legislation that changes the state’s advanced energy standards to unenforceable “goals” will harm consumers and jeopardize thousands of manufacturing and development jobs in Ohio’s advanced energy industry and other industries that increasingly want and rely on advanced energy sources.
“If Ohio’s economy is on the ‘verge of a recession,’ as the governor has claimed, rolling back state renewable energy standards will threaten future job growth and could harm consumers, workers and the environment,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton). “Advanced energy technologies are helping create the manufacturing jobs of the future, and we would be wise to invest now to become a leader of this emerging industry instead of falling behind the rest of the nation.”
The nation and world’s leading companies are increasingly turning to advanced energy sources to power their businesses. On Tuesday, global home furnishing retailer Ikea announced it has completed a 213,000 square foot solar array on its soon-to-open store in central Ohio, one of the largest such arrays in the state.
“We owe it to future Ohioans to make sure we leave behind a state that is thriving, healthy and safe,” said Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “Rolling back the opportunity to be a leader in the emerging renewable energy industry is not only harmful to our environment but also our economy.”
Some of the largest corporate brands – including Apple, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Facebook, General Motors, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Cincinnati-based Proctor & Gamble, Starbucks, Walmart and more – have all publicly pledged to procure 100 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by a certain date in the near future.
“If we really care about job creation and positioning Ohio for a 21st century economy, then we should promote such a vision and plan – but HB 114 does nothing of the sort,” said Rep. John Patterson (D-Jefferson). “I cannot support a bill that impedes the creation of new jobs and endangers the environment for our people and our children.”
Amazon Web Services, Inc., an Amazon.com subsidiary, recently announced plans to build a $300 million wind farm in Hardin County, Ohio, in addition to their 100-megawatt wind farm in nearby Paulding County that is expected to start producing electricity this May.
“This legislation threatens thousands of current and future jobs in the renewable energy industry, including jobs connected to wind-power projects here in Northwest Ohio,” said Rep. Michael Sheehy (D-Oregon). “HB 114 will hurt consumers, workers and the economy by squandering Ohio’s opportunity to be an advanced energy leader in the 21st century.”
In addition to changing the state’s energy efficiency standards to goals, HB 114 also allows corporations to bypass additional charges on Ohio consumers from utility companies designed to recoup the cost of advanced energy.
“This legislation takes Ohio backwards rather than advancing 21st century innovation and puts job growth and the environment at a disadvantage,” said Rep. Nickie J. Antonio (D-Lakewood). “The biggest losers with this bill are the people of Ohio.”
Ohio’s energy efficiency standards were originally passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2008. According to various reports, the standards have since saved consumers over $1 billion in energy costs, helped create thousands of jobs in the state’s advanced energy industry, and were on track to reduce an estimated 23 million tons of annual carbon pollution by 2029, helping prevent thousands of lost work days, asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature deaths. Just this week, a new report showed that Ohio gained more than 1,000 jobs related to solar power alone in 2016, though that rate of growth ranks slightly below the national average.
“This is our time, and this is our moment,” said Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus). “We are the first generation to understand the human causes of climate change – and the last generation to be able to stop it.”
Due to the state energy efficiency standards, Ohio had an opportunity to position itself as a leader in the burgeoning renewable energy industry. Roughly 7,200 businesses and approximately 89,000 workers are directly employed in Ohio’s clean energy sector.
Here is what other Democratic lawmakers are saying about House Bill 114:
“If the Department of Defense – the nation’s largest consumer of energy – is expanding the use of renewable energy systems to save our soldiers’ lives by utilizing on-the-go solar panels and electricity-generating backpacks to cut down on refueling trips to the battlefield; if Michigan, the home of the Wolverines, can hit their 10 percent level of renewable energy – why can’t Ohio?” said Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights). “I oppose HB 114 and the Republican majority’s desire to set Ohio’s energy standards back even further.”
“The passage of HB 114 and repealing of Ohio’s energy standard sends the message that Ohio is not interested in creating new jobs and attracting businesses to Ohio,” said Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus). “As other states continue to surpass their standards we have instead chosen to take a step backwards. This is a huge disservice to our economy, our environment, our public health and our national security.”
“In the Mahoning Valley in general and Youngstown in particular, we’ve seen first-hand the ways in which innovation, research and development can drive economic growth and job creation,” said Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown). “Now, unfortunately and inexplicably, Republicans lawmakers want us to walk away from one of the most vibrant and exciting industries of the 21st century – an industry that will drive economic growth, provide our universities an opportunity to monetize their advanced energy technology research, create good jobs and save consumers billions of dollars, all while protecting our environment. Here’s the bottom line: HB 114 isn’t just bad policy, it’s pure folly.”