Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency are Best Bets for Healthier, Wealthier Ohio
New study from EDF and TNC forecasts benefits of varied clean energy scenarios
(COLUMBUS – October 24, 2016) — A new economic study finds a solid mix of energy efficiency and clean energy in Ohio will create jobs and grow the state’s economy, while saving customers money over time and generating health benefits.
The comprehensive report, “Grounds for Optimism: Options for Empowering Ohio’s Energy Market,” investigates alternative pathways for Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. Produced by the energy market experts Greenlink Group in consultation with Runnerstone, a local energy consultancy well-versed in Ohio’s energy landscape, the report compares three forecasts of the state’s electricity market against a baseline of an indefinite extension of the current freeze on clean energy standards. The analysis highlights the financial and health benefits of each mix of resources. The Greenlink Group utilized an advanced system dynamics model to analyze the hour-by-hour characteristics of Ohio’s electricity demand and generation over the course of the next fifteen years. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) commissioned the research and released the report today to help inform current policy discussions on the fate of Ohio’s clean energy standards.
Based on clear trends and achievable targets within the state’s growing clean energy industry, the report analyzes an Accelerated Efficiency scenario, an Intermediate Pathway that provides a balanced mix of renewables and efficiency, and an Expanded Renewables scenario. Each offers an achievable alternative to the 2008 standards and will result in significant economic benefits, while keeping Ohio on track to meet potential federal regulations. Those scenarios are compared against a baseline that models an indefinite extension of the freeze on Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, as has been proposed by some state lawmakers. All scenarios assume that the current setback rules for new wind development will be revised.
“Ohio policymakers are at a crossroads. They can create jobs, grow the economy, cut pollution, and save customers money by rebuilding the state’s renewable and efficiency policies, or they can continue to let Ohio fall behind other states in the clean energy boom,” said Dick Munson, Director, Midwest Clean Energy for Environmental Defense Fund. “Fortunately, this study shows there are multiple potential paths forward, all of which will greatly benefit Ohioans.”
The study demonstrates that policymakers have a range of attractive options for Ohio to participate in the clean energy economy, while providing jobs and ensuring cleaner air for all Ohioans.
“We were asked to consider Ohio’s future electricity needs and determine the true economic implications of various strategies,” said Dr. Matt Cox, chief operating officer and founder of The Greenlink Group, Inc. “Our analysis attempts to get to the ‘true costs and benefits’ of these policies, such as the impact on utilities and the healthcare benefits from less pollution.”
According to the three scenarios, the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries are expected to:
- Create between 82,300 and 136,000 new jobs in Ohio, with the wind industry serving as one of the largest contributors.
- Enhance Ohio’s GDP by $6.7 billion to $10.7 billion by 2030.
- Provide between $28.8 million and $50.9 million in savings for Ohio electricity customers in 2030 alone.
- Deliver approximately $800 million in near-term health-care savings annually and up to $3 billion per year by 2030.
For example, the Expanded Renewables scenario relies on greater growth in renewable energy (e.g. wind and solar) and features the greatest increases in jobs and payroll growth, largely due to manufacturing jobs related to wind power industry. In addition, the Expanded Renewables pathway will attract private market investment that will limit financial impact on ratepayers up front and in the long-term.
The Accelerated Efficiency scenario also creates jobs and payroll growth, and would place Ohio in line with efficiency targets other states have already adopted and, in most cases, achieved.
In addition to the comparative forecasts, the report calls for five market-focused reforms that would advance energy innovation and investment within Ohio, including revisions to the wind setback rule that has prevented further wind development in the state.
“Reinvigorating Ohio’s renewable and efficiency policies will allow the state to maintain flexibility while building a cleaner, healthier energy system,” said Josh Knights, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Ohio.
“Ohio was once a clean energy leader,” Knights said. “This report provides lawmakers with options for getting the Buckeye State back on track, so Ohioans can have a cleaner, more affordable energy system.”
All three scenarios in the study positively impact Ohio’s economy, create jobs, expand the state’s GDP and payroll, and lower electricity costs to customers over the long-term. EDF and TNC recommend that state lawmakers carefully review the three scenarios and enact standards that will attract investment in Ohio and position the state as a leader in energy innovation.
The full report can be downloaded here.
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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at www.nature.org.