Energy efficiency is good for Ohio. That was the message delivered on Monday by Advanced Energy Economy Ohio, an association of companies involved in alternative energy systems. The group took aim at an idea pushed by FirstEnergy and other utilities to ease the energy efficiency requirements enacted by state lawmakers four years ago. It warned about harm to a sector that employs 10,000 workers and covers roughly 400 firms.

Worth stressing is that these companies are innovators, looking for new ways to generate energy, ways that are friendlier to the environment, that attract talent and create jobs. That is what Gov. John Kasich had in mind a year ago when he put forward an energy strategy reinforcing the work of state lawmakers, adding incentives for combined heat and power projects.

FirstEnergy argues that the energy landscape has changed dramatically in the wake of the harsh recession and the arrival of abundant natural gas. It points to unnecessary costs for many companies as utilities pursue the gradual climb to a 22 percent reduction in energy use by 2025. It wants the state to take a breather from the requirements, a freeze established and a reassessment made.

The Akron-based utility has pitched that the Statehouse act sooner rather than later, talking up the possibility of passage in the current lame-duck session. No question, energy markets have been bumpy. More, set in motion a policy to take effect over 16 years, and the expectation should be that adjustments will be needed.

What troubles Advanced Energy Economy Ohio and, earlier, the Ohio Manufacturers Association, is the timing of the FirstEnergy effort. They see the requirements largely working, producing savings and sparking innovation. They ask: Why rush to shift direction so substantially — without the benefit of legislative hearings or a full airing of concerns and virtues of the policy?

The manufacturers association looked at the call for altering the efficiency requirements and concluded advocates “will need to bring much more data and analysis to the table to demonstrate why” the change should be made. It stressed that “a compelling body of evidence exists to support a continued statewide commitment to achieving the energy efficiency targets.”

What should not be compromised is a long-term and vigorous commitment by the state to energy efficiency. It is cost-effective. It is innovative and cleaner. It serves as a hedge against the volatility of energy prices, especially in the realm of natural gas. So, yes, continue the discussion about energy efficiency moving forward — after the lame ducks have limped away.