Ohio, Repeal Expensive Energy Law

Published November 23, 2010

Ohio voters spoke resoundingly on Nov. 2: To bring the state desperately needed jobs, government must get out of the way of business instead of making decisions for it.

That has implications for numerous issues, but none more than energy. By sweeping Republicans into statewide offices and the General Assembly, the voters repudiated the campaign to demonize “Big Oil” and the coal industry.

Gov.-elect John Kasich, a Republican, and presumably most colleagues who were helped into office by Tea Party efforts, understand costly alternative energy schemes mandated by big-government policies kill jobs and paralyze business.

No aspect of this agenda is more harmful to the economy than Ohio’s coercive Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), which current Gov. Ted Strickland signed into law in 2008.

The law forces utilities (and ultimately the consumer, in your electric bill) to purchase at least 25 percent of power generation from alternative energy sources (including 12.5 percent from nuclear, energy efficiency programs or clean coal technology) by the year 2025.

This might be a nice idea in theory, though it would do nothing to reduce global warming.

It’s similar to the ridiculous mandates that will force you to buy expensive, mercury-filled compact fluorescent light bulbs in a couple of years instead of affordable incandescent ones.

Try this: Ask an environmentalist how much these policies will reduce our global temperature, and then watch them stammer and avoid the question.

AEPS is effectively a hidden tax passed on to consumers and businesses. The higher costs cause businesses to cut investment elsewhere, such as in jobs. With an unemployment rate near 10 percent, it’s folly to force unnecessarily expensive power on Ohio’s industries.

Fortunately Gov.-elect Kasich appears to understand the problem with AEPS. Asked by the Dayton Daily News in September whether he agrees with the state’s mandate, he said, “If it drives up costs to consumers, going to drive up utility bills because we don’t have it ready and we have to go and buy it somewhere else at a very high price. I don’t like that.”

When asked if he would try to repeal Ohio’s mandate, he said, “Only if I were to determine that it is unrealistic and that it’ll drive up prices.”

Kasich’s spokesman later backpedaled from the idea of a repeal, but he shouldn’t have. The mandate is unrealistic.

Currently the state receives only 1 percent of its electricity from hydroelectric or renewables, according to the Public Utilities Commission, despite huge taxpayer subsidies for such projects.

Constituents are getting soaked for these projects in both their power bills and their tax bills, all in the name of having a negligible effect on saving the planet from, at best, a highly disputed global warming “problem.”

Repealing Ohio’s AEPS should be a top priority for Kasich and the newly elected legislature. It’s an easy call that can create significant relief for the state’s struggling economy.