Ohio power companies could once again offer energy efficiency programs such as smart thermostats or appliance rebates, the cost of which would be covered by customers under new legislation aimed at restarting such programs after a now-tainted energy bill killed them off.
The nuclear plant bailout law approved in 2019 paved the way for a $1 billion ratepayer-funded rescue of Ohio’s two aging nuclear plants. Lawmakers repealed the bailout earlier this year, but left unchanged were provisions that gutted state renewable energy standards and eliminated all energy efficiency programs.
Legislation introduced last week aims to restore some of those programs, but comes with a twist: For the first time, residential customers not interested in participating can opt out of paying their share of the program. In the past, all residential customers paid for an energy efficiency program regardless of whether they took part.
The opt-out would last five years, after which customers would have to again indicate their preference. The participation fee would be capped at $1.50 a month. Customers are automatically included in the program unless they opt out.
Commercial and industrial customers, on the other hand, are automatically excluded from participating and would have to choose to opt in under the bill.