The Ohio House of Representatives just debated and passed another bill to rollback the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard.

Proponents of the bill – HB 114 – engaged in misleading attacks on the booming renewable energy industry. What follows are a few examples of the misleading claims and dubious sources that were aired during the debate.

Joseph Stalin’s 5-year plans actually promoted coal, not renewable energy

Rep. Bill Seitz, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said that Ohio’s renewable energy portfolio standard, or RPS for short, is “something out of the five-year plan playbook of Joseph Stalin in 1940?”

Seitz made a similar claim back in 2013, when he floated another bill targeting the RPS. The quote soon became emblematic of the politically motivated attacks on RPS policies backed by power special interests, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council and Koch brothers.

Rex Tillerson, then CEO of ExxonMobil, with Russian president Vladimir Putin. Photo from Kremlin.ru energy 

Seitz is now well known for his use of controversial rhetoric in his attacks on renewables. Still, it’s worth noting that Stalin’s 5-year plans actually set targets for coal production, not wind and solar power. 

Ohio’s RPS was enacted as part of a broader energy bill – SB 221 – that was passed by the Ohio General Assembly in 2008 with near unanimous bipartisan support. Back then, Republicans controlled the state legislature in Ohio, and Seitz was among the many Republicans who voted in favor of the bill. Joseph Stalin, who died in 1953, has nothing to do with it.

Today, it is actually oil and gas companies like ExxonMobil that are lobbying for the policy agenda of Vladimir Putin’s Russia in the United States. Fossil fuel interests, including the American Petroleum Institute and Ohio Coal Association, have also lobbied state representatives in Ohio this year to mandate an end to the RPS, as has the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity. 

An eight-year old study from Spain that got it wrong on green jobs

Rep. Louis Blessing III, the primary sponsor of the RPS rollback bill that was just passed by the Ohio House, cited a 2009 report that was paid for by the Institute for Energy Research (IER), an outfit with ties to the Koch brothers and Trump administration, to undermine bipartisan support for investing in renewable energy to create green jobs.  

The report alleged that for every green job created by Spain’s investments in renewable energy, two jobs were lost. It was authored by the Spanish Professor Gabriel Calzada Álvarez, who had ties to ExxonMobil, and was soon debunked by the U.S. based National Renewable Energy Laboratory (among many others). Even the Wall Street Journal took issue with the report’s misleading claims.

Eight years later, the evidence shows that U.S. investments in clean energy have paid off with new jobs in the growing energy efficiency, solar and wind power industries. One recent study found that Ohio alone is home to more than 100,000 clean energy jobs.

The up front cost of meeting the RPS = just cents a month for Ohio consumers

RPS opponents also claimed that they want to save “Bob and Betty Buckeye” money on their electricity bill. But an analysis of the RPS rollback bill by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission shows that everyday Ohioans pay just cents per month for their utilities to meet the RPS, as illustrated in the graph below: 

The analysis also warned that the RPS rollback bill could actually lead to “higher wholesale electricity prices” that would impact customers.

Research by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has shown that state RPS policies generally represent a tiny portion of electricity bills and prices, and that’s before you factor in the environmental and health benefits that other research shows far outweigh the costs of requiring utilities to ramp up use of renewable energy.

What’s next?

The RPS rollback bill now moves on to the Ohio Senate, where its fate is uncertain at best. If it passes there, it’s likely to be vetoed by Republican Governor John Kasich, who has previously shown that he prefers clean energy facts over fossil fuel fiction. 

Posted by Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson is the policy and communications manager for the Energy and Policy Institute.

Dave has been working at the nexus of clean energy and public policy since 2008. Prior to joining the Energy and Policy Institute, he was an outreach coordinator for the climate and energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. He is also an alumnus of the Sierra Club and the Alliance for Climate Protection (now the Climate Reality Project).

Dave’s research has helped to spur public scrutiny of political attacks on clean energy and climate science by powerful special interests, such as ExxonMobil and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). His work has been cited by major media outlets, such as CBS News and the Wall Street Journal, and he has served as a speaker on panels at national solar industry conferences.

Dave holds a MA in Political Science from the University of New Hampshire, where he also received a BA in Humanities.

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