Gov. John Kasich just signed into a law a bill that freezes Ohio's renewable energy mandate for the next two years, making Ohio the first state to make negative progress on its green energy goals. Good job, Ohio.
As Salon reported last month when the state House of Representatives first approved the bill, SB 310 removes the requirement, first set in 2008, for utilities to add renewables to their energy mix. It sounded like a good idea then -- it passed almost unanimously -- and has done pretty well for Ohio since: clean energy's brought 25,000 jobs and at least $1 billion in private sector investment, and cut electricity rates by 1.4 percent, resulting in over $230 million in cumulative savings.
Unfortunately for jobs, savings and the environment, conservative, libertarian and Koch-affiliated groups like the Heartland Institute, Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council have made renewables a political target.
“These green energy mandates are bad policy,” Christine Harbin Hanson, a spokeswoman for Americans for Prosperity, told the L.A. Times back in April, referring to similar legislation in Kansas. “State governments are starting to wake up."
Gabe Elsner, executive director of the pro-renewables Energy and Policy Institute, sees it a bit differently. “The fossil fuel and utility industry has been caught off guard by the rise of cheap, clean energy, and over the past 18 months they’ve responded in a really big way across the country,” he told the New York Times. “We’re seeing the results of that campaign now in Ohio.”