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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Report Shows the Effects of Ohio Resuming Its Renewable Energy Standards

Posted By on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 12:49 PM

click to enlarge Wind farm in Van Wert, Ohio - CHARLES CARPER
  • CHARLES CARPER
  • Wind farm in Van Wert, Ohio

Ohio's renewable energy standards are again in play, following Gov. John Kasich's veto of a Statehouse-approved continuation of the freeze on those standards. And thanks to Kasich's decision, we can now get back to discussing what lies ahead for the state's energy production and, inevitably, business development.

A new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory outlines, generally, how the benefits of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) outweigh the costs. Ohio is back on the list of 29 states that currently enforce an RPS, and, even if standards remain the same from this point on, the U.S. will use renewable energy sources for 26 percent of electricity generation by 2030 and 40 percent by 2050. If more states join the RPS trend — and if standards strengthen — the ratio becomes bolder.

In Ohio, after two years of the RPS being "frozen," 2017 will show us how state law impacts energy production and consumption.

A few things to note:

State lawmakers made sure to gut our RPS when they first enacted the freeze in 2014. Language that demanded half of Ohio's renewable energy production come from in-state sources was tossed (allowing more out-of-state conglomerates to sell to Ohioans). Utilities can utilize third-party energy efficiency programs to meet the standards. On the consumer side, certain industrial users may opt out of the RPS altogether. This is not the strongest RPS in the country.

But Kasich's veto places beneficial goals back in sight. Already, the move has assisted Amazon in plans to build a second wind farm in central Ohio. And prior to the freeze, the RPS spurred some $160 million in annual state GDP growth, according to the Ohio State University.

To return to the energy lab report — and to a broader look at the impact of nationwide RPS — the cost/benefit analysis will grow more clear in the years ahead. Here's Midwest Energy News:

Satisfying existing portfolio standards will cost about $31 billion, or about three-quarters of a cent per kilowatt-hour of renewable energy in terms of levelized costs. If renewable standards multiply and strengthen, the study said, costs could range widely, from $23 billion to $194 billion, or from about one-quarter of a cent to 1.5 cents more per kWh.

Meanwhile, emissions of common pollutants — sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and small particles — would drop by between 4 and 5 percent under existing standards, prompting $97 billion in health and environmental benefits. A stronger RPS regime would trigger these pollutants to drop much more, 29 percent, with benefits of $558 billion, the study said.

As 2017 hums along, we'll be keeping tabs on how governments and businesses across Ohio are working to advance the state's RPS goals.

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