Fixing Ohio’s Renewable Policies in 2016 Could Save Consumers $3.4 Billion

The Ohio legislature could save consumers nearly $3.4 billion by 2030 by allowing the freeze on the state’s renewable energy standard to expire and fixing its wind setback law in 2016, according to a new report produced by A Renewable America (ARA), the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and reviewed by Cleveland-based Institute for Energy Economics. The report, which models various policy options, serves as an important resource for the on-going debate about how the state should proceed with its renewable portfolio standard, which was frozen in 2014 and its wind setback law, both of which are currently under consideration by the Ohio General Assembly.

Significant cost declines in renewable electricity prices – especially for wind and solar power – have spurred rapid growth in the renewable industries in recent years. This boom is driving billions of new private investment and job creation. In contrast, the market uncertainty created by freezing Ohio’s renewable energy standards, coupled with restrictive wind setback policy, has led to stagnant growth in state’s renewable power sector. Wind industry representatives have also concluded that further wind power development in the state is unlikely without an adjustment to the state’s restrictive setback law.

The report, produced by ARA, a project of the Wind Energy Foundation, demonstrates how different policy scenarios will impact average residential consumers in the state. Letting the freeze lift and fixing Ohio’s wind setback policy this year would result in cumulative savings of $236 for average residential customers. Ending the freeze and lowering the renewable energy standard to 10% would result in cumulative savings of $2.3 billion through 2030 and save residential customers $160. Extending the freeze and waiting two additional years to implement policy fixes would cost Ohio consumers $2.7 billion.

The report also discusses how Ohio’s wind turbine setback policy harms rural economic development opportunities. Nationwide, wind plants pay $222 million to private landowners through land lease payments. Wind projects in Van Wert and Paulding Counties have already paid approximately $16 million in tax payments to date, directly benefiting local schools. By impeding the development of the 11 wind projects already permitted and approved by the Ohio Power Siting Board, the wind setback rule is causing the state to lose out on an estimated $11.7 million in new annual tax revenue for its rural communities.

In July 2015, Facebook decided to build its new $1 billion data center in Fort Worth, Texas over a potential location in Columbus, citing access to wind power as one of the reasons for its final decision. The company subsequently signed an agreement to power the facility with a nearby wind project.

The data on the cost of all energy sources used in the report was taken from a comprehensive data-set compiled by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Read the full report here:

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