The Ohio Legislature realizes what all of us know – our state’s energy efficiency programs are among the best in the nation and have paid big dividends for all Ohioans.

State legislators in recent years have strongly supported energy-efficiency efforts through legislative action, acknowledging the benefits these programs bring to low-income families who struggle to cover costs for food, clothing, and medical care after they’ve paid their rent and energy bills.

Our energy-efficiency programs have helped thousands of households save more than 20 percent on their energy costs by, among other things, replacing outdated appliances and weatherizing homes.  Not only does that benefit working families, it also reduces our state’s overall energy consumption, lowering costs for all Ohioans and helping us combat climate change.

The most recent indication of the Legislature’s bipartisan support of energy-efficiency programs is in the state’s two-year budget.  A provision in the spending bill allows Ohio to spend up to 25 percent of the federal money it receives for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) on energy-efficiency services.  This will be the first biennium that the 25 percent transfer will be fully in effect.

It’s estimated Ohio will receive $228, million for LIHEAP through the American Rescue Plan which could also be used for energy efficiency services as families emerge from the devastating financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the money targeted for energy-efficiency programs is in no way taking away from the tens of millions of federal dollars already earmarked for bill payment assistance.  Rather, low-income families will receive the dual benefits of payment assistance and weatherization.

Beyond the budget, a bipartisan group of legislators is working behind the scenes to craft energy efficiency legislation that we have learned will include  low-income weatherization funding, showing, once again, the legislative support for energy-efficiency programs that save money for homeowners and renters.

This is good news for us and other like-minded organizations who have seen the positive impact energy-efficiency programs can have on the families we serve.   We will continue to work toward maintaining and perhaps expanding Ohio’s investment into energy savings projects.