A utility backed energy efficiency and renewable energy bill before the Ohio Senate has divided the business community, with some endorsing changes in the programs and others opting for the status quo.
As reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a corporate letter-writing campaign over the past several weeks has accompanied a series of committee hearings held by the bill’s sponsor, Cincinnati Republican Sen. William Seitz.
Large companies have ended up on opposite sides of the debate. On one side are companies like Dow Chemical, Honda, the Lima Husky Refinery, Whirlpool, Owens-Corning, BASF and Ingersoll Rand.
The companies argued that the provisions would reduce any incentives to use less power.
“Energy efficiency is a low-cost strategy for keeping energy costs under control and providing protection against price volatility,” they wrote. “We ask the sponsors to reconsider their legislation in total. Instead, we suggest moving forward with comprehensive legislation that focuses on energy efficiency and economic growth.”
Conversely, metals manufacturers Timken and Alcoa favor the bill, which would allow large power users to opt out of the mandatory efficiency programs.
The Ohio Energy Group, which represents the state’s 21 largest energy-intensive manufacturers, said these companies “support and live energy efficiency,” and that cost recovery charges harm the competitive market position of the large industrials forced to pay them, which are adjustments utilities add to industrial rates to pay for the programs.
The group notes 10 of the 25 states that have enacted mandatory efficiency programs include provisions allowing the large industrials to opt out, reports the Plain Dealer.
Utility FirstEnergy also supports the bill.
“FirstEnergy remains concerned that meeting the state’s energy-efficiency goals will continue to place burdensome costs on our customers, particularly Ohio businesses,” the company said in a statement.