COLUMBUS – Winter is almost here, and a new report finds state policies are hindering weatherization programs.
According to the findings, in 2008 Ohio’s clean-energy standards sparked a nearly sevenfold increase in investment in low-income home weatherization by private investor-owned electric utilities. But those investments dropped 26 percent when lawmakers froze the standards in 2014.
Tom Calhoun, housing programs manager for the Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development, said weatherization provides energy savings, safety and peace of mind for residents. He described the story of a woman named Mita who lives on a fixed income and faces high energy bills.
“She was worried about how she was going to make it through this winter,” he said. “Well, I told Mita that we could weatherize her home and she started crying. She just couldn’t believe that this was available.”
The report, released by Policy Matters Ohio and NextGen Climate America, found that weatherization programs help reduce the number of families seeking utility payment-assistance plans, while adding jobs and boosting the economy. The General Assembly maintained that the clean-energy standards were expensive and difficult to implement.
Support was much higher for weatherization under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, said Dave Rinebolt, executive director of Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy. He said the current freeze on energy standards is limiting the capabilities of the state’s weatherization network.
“During the ARRA period, Ohio was one of the leading producers in weatherization nationwide. We weatherized 41,000 homes in 27 months,” he said. “I think that speaks to our efficiency and effectiveness.”
The report comes as the Paris climate talks continue. David Weiskopf, an attorney with NextGen Climate America, said that while the clean-energy economy takes off globally and nationally, Ohio is moving in the wrong direction with the clean-energy standard freeze and opposition to the Clean Power Plan.
“We’re seeing this through the filing of lawsuits by the state attorney general, by the administration dragging its feet on drafting a state implementation plan,” he said, “and as long as the Clean Energy Freeze is in place, Ohio will continue to lose ground to neighboring states who are making advances in clean energy.”
The report is online at policymattersohio.org.