The passing of Senate Bill 221 (SB 221), which was signed by Governor Ted Strickland on May 1, 2008, was a landmark event that has positioned Ohio to become a national leader in energy efficiency. SB 221 created an aggressive Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) mandating that Ohio's investor-owned utilities save at least 22% of electricity consumption by 2025, which our report clearly demonstrates is not only achievable, but can also be accomplished cost-effectively while providing significant job and financial benefits to Ohio's economy. The timing of the legislation is opportune, as rising unemployment and a deepening state budget deficit have shown that Ohio and its consumers are in great need of economic revitalization. Deployed as Ohio's "first fuel," investments in energy efficiency will facilitate this revitalization in three ways: (1) by minimizing employment losses through the creation of new "green collar" jobs; (2) by providing critical financial relief to Ohio's consumers through lower energy bills and stable rates, and; (3) by easing the strain on the state budget through lower state operating costs, enabled by the expansion of energy efficiency into state and local government buildings.
Ohio's current fiscal and economic challenges do not preclude the state from garnering considerable benefits from energy efficiency. Energy efficiency and demand response are the lowest-cost resources available to moderate short-term impacts and are also the quickest to deploy, meaning that efficiency resources begin to generate financial savings for the state and its consumers quickly, which can then be reinvested to further stimulate Ohio's ailing economy. A comprehensive state energy plan is also important in order to effectively leverage the boon of federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which includes $6.3 billion for state and local energy efficiency and clean energy grants. So long as investments in energy efficiency are made prudently and complemented by strong programs and policies, Ohio will be able to alleviate these short-term issues and improve its economic vitality well into the future.