Buckeye Institute urges general assembly to let the market decide on “green energy”

May 21, 2014

The Ohio House of Representatives was poised to pass Senate Bill 310 this week—a piece of legislation that would implement a two-year freeze on the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy portfolio standards. The bill would also create a special committee to continue examining the impact of the renewable energy portfolio on Ohio consumers, eliminate a probably unconstitutional in-state mandate for the purchasing of renewable energy, and a variety of other things. The bill, however, was delayed until at least next week.

The current standards were passed during Governor Ted Strickland’s term of office in 2008 and took no account of the major change in Ohio’s energy landscape heralded by the shale revolution. The mandates include specific set asides for solar energy and have prompted the large expansion of wind energy in Ohio despite the fact that the state is simply not located in an area to take meaningful advantage of that resource.

Our Statehouse Liaison, Greg R. Lawson, testified as an interested party yesterday before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee during a hearing on Senate Bill 310. In his testimony, Lawson concluded:

…the entire premise of government mandates on energy is misguided. Given the current realities of the energy market, these mandates become even more absurd. In time, the market will adapt—it always does. If our natural gas were to disappear tomorrow, other supplies would emerge to fill the void. In the future, some of the supplies will probably come from sources that seem like science fiction today. Yet, the competition amongst these various resources will ultimately be what drives costs down and assures the reliability of our energy infrastructure. Mandates merely prop up non-competitive energy sources and supplies, and do not serve the recovering economy or Ohio energy consumers well.

Lawson was also interviewed by WBNS 10TV on whether Ohio should roll back the mandates.

When government picks winners and losers, the public and innovation loses. Ohio should not be in the business of mandates, whether in the field of health care, or in the energy market.