Proponents of maintaining Ohio’s energy mandates point to studies in the past few years predicting that the cost of wind and solar energy will continue to fall nationwide. They cite research showing that other states have benefited from similar energy mandates.
They also note that utilities in Ohio have reported their energy-efficiency programs have, so far, saved more money than they cost.
Supporters of the standards say they expect such trends will continue in Ohio if the mandates are left in place. But there has been no research specific to Ohio that backs up their assumptions.
Gabe Elsner of the Energy and Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based pro-renewable energy think tank, yielded that it’s not a “100-percent certainty” that Ohio’s mandates will save money in the years to come. But what is known, Elsner said, is that “energy efficiency is by far the cheapest producer of electricity” and that the cost of renewable energy is going down.
“If we expect that trend to continue – which most economists and financial institutions and investors do – than it’s just going to continue being a better investment going into the future,” he said.
Noah Dormady, an assistant professor at Ohio State University’s Glenn School of Public Affairs, said in many ways, Ohio doesn’t need an independent study to forecast the impact of its energy mandates. Other states have seen benefits from their mandates, Dormady said, and utilities admitted to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio back in 2009 that their energy-efficiency plans are cost-effective.
In addition, Dormady said that it can be difficult to forecast exactly how the mandates will affect Ohio’s economy and energy rates, because there are so many factors to account for – from the price of land for solar farms to whether nuclear power or Canadian hydropower counts as renewable energy.