Ghost of HB6 Still Haunts Ohio Utilities
We’ve covered the House Bill 6 story before. And while it was mostly dead and buried, it’s still making Ohio look bad. In a recent study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The study looked at the energy saving policies and programs at 53 of the nation’s largest electric utilities. It then ranked them in terms of energy, economic, and environmental benefits. Three Ohio utilities came in among the last five. One was even dead last with the lowest scores in the country. Let’s see why.
Why Ohio Utilities Rank So Low
According to the latest ACEEE Efficiency Scorecard, utilities earn their scores and rankings because they “reflect the utilities themselves and the legislative and regulatory environments within which they operate.” ACEEE also points out that the lowest scoring utilities offer customers little to no energy savings. So, it’s troubling that Ohio Edison came in last at 53. But even worse, the ACEEE study saw a 5% drop in national energy savings due to Ohio law HB6. That’s because HB6 did away with Ohio’s energy programs in 2019.
Why MA Rates Number One
In contrast, the number one utility offering the best energy saving programs is EverSource Massachusetts. True, New England energy customers do pay 3 to 4 times per kWh more than Ohio residents. However, New England power plants get natural gas from just two two pipelines. This means sharply higher power prices for those customers. Ohio, meanwhile, supplies large amounts of natural gas to the entire nation. So, given its cheaper power costs, how can Ohio fix its energy saving programs to help customers?
How Does Ohio Compare?
Ohio utilities does share some similar practices with programs in MA. For instance, many Ohio power companies offer rebates for smart thermostats and Energy Star rated appliances. However, MA goes beyond these. They offer large appliance recycling free to customers. They offer rebates for battery powered lawn and garden tools. Customers can also get discounts and rebates on new HVAC systems. Finally, MA customers can sign up for free home energy audits. These can help them reduce energy use and cut their bills. In Ohio, even a low priced energy audit can be difficult to find for some customers.
HB79 Tries To Help
Ohio House Bill 79 does attempt to bring back some energy saving programs. The bill promotes energy saving appliances that cut usage by adding about $1.50 a month to each customer’s bill. But many question whether the bill is necessary due to federal EnergyStar rebates. Plus, the new law would generate over $400 million for the utilities. Critics argue these programs penalize customers for saving energy by letting Ohio power companies for “lost distribution revenue”.
Better Energy Efficiency = Savings
Clearly, lawmakers must join together to craft energy policies that benefit both Ohio’s power companies and their customers. Meanwhile, Ohio energy customers still need to look harder to save money on their electric bills. One way is to start with a DIY home energy audit. Then, use our easy fixes to help lower your electricity bills. But most important of all, be sure to shop around for a new electric plan. Some companies offer even more benefits than your utility. You can find tons of plans across Ohio at www.ohenergyratings.com