- September 15, 2016
- Policy Matters Ohio
- Amanda Woodrum, Ben Stein
Ohio needs a more sustainable energy strategy for its industrial sector. There is growing recognition this energy strategy should revolve around greater deployment of combined heat and power (“CHP”) technology — a much more efficient and reliable way to meet both the heat and power needs of manufacturers.
The industrial sector consumes one-third of all energy used in the state, more so even than the transportation sector. Manufacturers burn fossil fuels on-site to heat metals and chemicals and – separately – purchase electricity from the grid to light their factories and power electric motors, welding tools, conveyer belts, and the like. In 2014, Ohio manufacturers spent $8.9 billion on energy, including $3.3 billion for electricity.
Electricity purchased from the grid, however, is generated and distributed inefficiently by electric monopolies relying on outdated coal-fired power plants and an antiquated grid. Ohio’s electric utility companies waste two out of every three lumps of coal they burn — the energy lost during generation, transmission and distribution of electric power.
Inflated electric prices, due to massive energy waste in the electric power sector, hurts Ohio manufacturers’ ability to compete in the new global economy. And because Ohio’s electric utilities burn three times more coal than is needed, the electric power sector is responsible for almost half of all carbon pollution in the state (45 percent). In fact, Ohio’s electric power sector emits more sulfur dioxide pollution than electric utilities of any other state. Ohio ranks fourth in the nation for nitrous oxide emissions and fifth for carbon dioxide.
In addition to carbon pollution’s contribution to climate change, pollutants from Ohio power plants are responsible for thousands of cases of respiratory disease, asthma attacks, and premature deaths. These disproportionately burden the poor.  Eight out of every ten coal-fired power plants in Ohio are in communities with high concentrations of low-income families.