As the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee continues to hear witness testimony regarding S.B. 34, which is a proposal to completely repeal the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, the business group Ohioans for Sustainable Jobs released a study last week "asserting the electric bill increases caused by energy efficiency requirements are at least five to 10 times greater than any possible benefits to Ohio customers," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report(See our Feb 21, 2014, blog post for more information). Economic Jonathan Lesser authored the study, "Ohio's Electricity Usage Reduction Mandate: The 'Free Lunch' Paid for by Ohio Consumers," which Sen. Seitz has said he thinks will settle the energy efficiency cost debate once and for all.

Late last month, Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), who chairs the Senate Public Utilities Committee, held the first hearings on S.B. 58 since he canceled a vote on it in December and started proponent testimony on S.B. 34, which Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) first introduced in February 2013. During the committee hearing, "several witnesses who already testified on the bill during previous hearings" delivered proponent testimony, Gongwer reports. These witnesses were: Kevon Martis, Interstate Concerned Citizens; Stephen Lesser and Kevin Murray, Public Utilities Commission of Ohio; Kevin Murray, Industrial Energy Users-Ohio; Michael Jones, University of Cincinnati's Economic Center; George Taylor, Silicon Valley engineer and entrepreneur.

At the same time, recent electricity reports in the Midwest are being touted as "evidence that state efficiency programs and technological advances are paying dividends in the region and fundamentally altering the landscape for utilities, regulators and consumers," E&E Publishing, LLC reports. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc.'s (MISO) North and Central regions recently forecast a 0.75 percent reduction in annual electricity demand, compared with its previous long-term reliability assessment pegging it at a 0.8 percent growth rate. In addition, Excel Energy Inc. "saw a 0.8 percent drop in weather-adjusted electric sales for its Minnesota service territory last year" based on the company's assumed 2.3 percent economic growth. For more, read the full story.