CLEVELAND — On the shores of Lake Erie inside the Great Lakes Science Center, the co-sponsors of the Energy Jobs and Justice Act unveil the 200 plus page piece of legislation that they argue encourages clean energy growth and energy waste reduction while curbing utility influence over policymaking and regulatory actions. Abuses at the heart of the House Bill 6 scandal.
"Unfortunately huge chunks of that bill are still in place,” said State Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson), “and the environment that created it is still in place so we have big steps anti-corruption steps for transparency, accountability, and regulatory reform that ultimately will prevent overcharges for Ohioans and will allow growing industries to come into our state."
An energy policy that embraces renewable energy by removing regulatory restrictions and State Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) said invests in workforce development to meet the need for jobs in it.
"Solar installers and wind technicians are two of the fastest-growing jobs in the country."
Co-sponsor Howse argues this is an energy policy that will make the state more attractive to younger workers concerned about a clean energy future.
"If people are looking at the census numbers we're not growing, we have to fit some better policies and a better pathway forward so that people will want to stay, invest here and I just think that this is an opportunity,” she said.
Just introduced on Tuesday, the bill carries no vocal opposition but it also carries no Republican co-sponsors in the Republican-controlled legislature.
Weinstein though feels because there's already bipartisan legislation moving forward to repeal parts of HB 6 the tide could be changing.
"I think there is truly a bipartisan opportunity to take the next step and say now that we've kicked that bad energy policy to the curb what do we want Ohio's energy future to look like now,” Weinstein said.
The Energy Jobs & Justice Act’s website says it categorizes revisions in Ohio law into three primary policy pillars that provide the accountability and transparency necessary to ensure an equitable energy landscape that exists to serve all Ohioans; Equity, Carbon Emissions Reduction, and Transparency and Accountability.
Under Equity, it says their goal is to promote just transition for underserved Ohio communities and those previously dependent upon or soon-to-be transitioning away from fossil fuels • Direct resources and support to reduce structural and institutional barriers historically faced by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities • Invest in workforce development and contractor equity, which will attract billions in new private workforce investment in Ohio.
Under Carbon Emissions Reduction, it seeks to ensure all electricity sold to Ohio utility customers and all electricity generated in Ohio is 100% carbon-free by 2050 with interim year benchmarks to ensure Ohio stays on track with this goal • Level the playing field for renewables in Ohio by removing overly burdensome red tape on siting new wind farms in Ohio, enabling community solar, and making permanent the local tax mechanism that ensures new renewable project revenue flows to school districts and county governments. • Identify all opportunities to eliminate energy waste in an electric system that serves old outdated equipment and buildings and save consumers money in the process
Under Transparency and Accountability, it calls for the creation of the Office of Energy Justice to ensure PUCO decisions are guided by and benefit from the principles of energy justice • Strengthen the ability for state regulators to audit and investigate any utility engaging in possible malfeasance • Remove undue utility influence over the Ohio Public Utilities Commission