Ohio House Committee approves energy-efficiency bill

Clears way for the legislation to hit the House floor

COLUMBUS – Legislation incentivizing public utilities to promote energy-efficiency programs to reduce energy bills appears to be headed for a December vote before the Ohio House.

The Ohio House Public Utilities Committee approved House Bill 389, a bipartisan effort to provide incentives for utilities to reduce costs for consumers over the long-term by cutting electricity demand through energy-efficiency programs.

The Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy (OPAE) has testified in support of this important bill.

The legislation addresses the dismantling of the state’s energy-efficiency programs when, in 2019, the Legislature passed the scandal-tainted House Bill 6 removing those incentives.  It also enshrines in law the ability of public utilities to design voluntary energy-efficiency programs.

Supported by the OPAE, environmental groups, investor-owned utilities, and legislators from both political parties, HB 389 includes the following guidelines, among others:

  • Residential customers will be offered the opportunity on the front-end to opt-out of the new program, and large customers are excluded from the program unless they affirmatively opt-in to it.
  • The annual goal for energy waste reduction is 0.5 percent.
  • The bill caps the maximum monthly cost of the new programs at $1.50 for each residential customer choosing to participate.
  • The programs will spend these dollars on improving the energy efficiency of homes through proven technologies and products, such as smart thermostats and energy-saving appliances.
  • Lays out the state regulatory process for approving the energy-efficiency programs undertaken by the utilities.

One of the bill’s sponsors, State Rep. Bill Seitz explained in his testimony that energy-efficiency programs will lower costs for consumers by reducing demand for electricity.

“The cheapest energy is the energy that isn’t used when common sense conservation measures help reduce usage and avoid the cost of building new generation,” Seitz said.

Seitz’s co-sponsor, State Rep. David Leland, said HB 389 could help bolster the economy and improve the environment.

“This bill is going to accomplish three things,” Leland said. “It’s going to save consumers money; it’s going to bolster our economy with new green energy jobs; and it’s going to reduce air pollution and carbon emissions.”

OPAE Executive Director John Sarver said HB 389 will help cut the energy bills of low-income families.

“Through this legislation, we have an opportunity to provide assistance, while reducing energy usage, to households where our most vulnerable Ohioans live – our elderly, our disabled, and our children,” Sarver said.

OPAE will continue to focus on HB 389 as the bill makes its way through the legislative process.

Meanwhile, in other legislative news, OPAE is carefully monitoring HB 450, which would enable community solar projects in Ohio.

OPAE is exploring ways through HB 450 to provide low-income households with the ability to use clean energy sources – such as solar – for their electricity.  Unfortunately, low- and moderate-income households often face financial obstacles even if they wanted to turn to this clean energy.  Community solar might be one option for these families to go solar.

Stay tuned for more developments as OPAE works to bring clean energy to the households we serve.