In the absence of a national energy policy, about 30 states have adopted plans to create more electricity from renewable sources. This patchwork of incentives is crucial to the development of the wind-power and solar-energy industries, and hundreds of thousands of jobs; the shift to renewables is also necessary to combat climate change. Yet even these modest state policies are under attack from groups including Americans for Prosperity and the American Legislative Exchange Council, which are both closely aligned with the billionaire Koch brothers. It’s a staggeringly misguided attempt to convince voters, mostly in economically struggling states, that renewable-energy targets are driving up their electric bills. Yet it may be bearing fruit.
In the bellwether state of Ohio, a Republican-dominated legislature and Governor John Kasich recently moved to reassess the state’s commitment to renewable energy. Ohio’s goal, set in 2008, was to have 12.5 percent of energy come from renewable sources by 2025. That’s a modest target, but significant nonetheless. Ohio is on the front lines of the fight against greenhouse-gas emissions, with a whopping 69 percent of its electricity coming from the dirtiest of fossil fuels, coal.
While low-income consumers may be loath to pay a penny more for electricity in order to curb climate change, they should at least appreciate the benefits of supporting home-grown sources; Iowa, for example, gets more than 27 percent of its electricity from wind power, supporting between 3,000 and 4,000 jobs. Wind can do for Ohio what it did for Iowa, if voters and their representatives steer clear of the hot air coming from the Koch brothers.