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Environmental and consumer advocates joined forces to respond to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). Over 30 interested parties commented on the proposed rules that dictate the future of energy efficiency and renewable energy in the state.

The comments came in response to draft rules PUCO recently released regarding renewable energy and energy efficiency. The rules implement Senate Bill 221, which requires utilities to use an ever-increasing percentage of advanced and renewable energy from such sources as wind and solar power, as well as make significant investments in energy efficiency.

Various environmental and consumer groups joined together to form the Ohio Consumer and Environmental Advocates (OCEA) and monitor the PUCO process. The issues relate to the development of a renewable energy market and strong energy efficiency programs.

OCEA claims that in their comments, the utilities do the following:

- deceptively charge customers more money than necessary to meet the renewable energy benchmarks that they are required to meet by-law,

-use non-renewable energy resources, like storing the energy from coal-fired power in a water tower, to meet the renewable energy requirement,

- allow new, expensive, advanced nuclear or coal facilities to wipe out the renewable energy requirements,

- oppose long-term planning that will result in the lowest rates for customers,
- take credit for energy efficiency investments made years ago to meet future energy savings requirements, and
- avoid the industry-standard monitoring and verification programs to guarantee energy efficiency savings.

"Energy efficiency programs need to benefit all customer classes," says Nolan Moser of the Ohio Environmental Council. "Utilities shouldn't be able to duck statutory energy efficiency requirements by offering sweetheart deals to large commercial and industrial customers with no monitoring and verification protections to ensure that savings are actually achieved."

PUCO will take each of the comments into consideration for their final ruling and will continue to develop the details of the energy efficiency programs through each electric utility's proposed rate plans.

SOURCE: Ohio Consumer and Environmental Advocates

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