Kasich signs bill freezing ‘green’ energy requirements

June 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Gov. John Kasich has signed a two-year freeze on Ohio’s “green” energy requirements, following a
long and sometimes bitter debate that has
put the state in a national spotlight.

The governor signed the bill behind closed doors in his office today. There was no
accompanying statement from Kasich or his spokesman with the news release notifying the news media
that the bill had been signed.

The process that led to the bill was a “myopic legislative misadventure,” said Steve Frenkel,
Midwest director for the Union of Concerned Scientists, a research group.

The timing is puzzling, he said, coming a little more than a week after the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency released new rules that will require states meet
benchmarks for reducing carbon emissions.

Many states will use renewable energy and energy efficiency to help meet the federal
standards, and Ohio is boxing itself in by undermining its state rules, Frenkel said.

State officials have not yet gone into detail about how they intend to respond to the federal
rules. During the legislative debate, sponsors said they were not aware of the federal rules or
that the rules had no bearing on the proposal.

The leading supporters of the bill include the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Timken Co., Alcoa
and several electricity utilities.

“Hitting the pause button and taking the time to better consider the impact of Ohio’s energy
mandates on jobs and our economy is the smart thing to do,” said Keith Lake, the chamber’s vice
president of government affairs, in a statement.

Senate Bill 310 is a two-year freeze on annual increases in standards for renewable energy
and energy efficiency.

The bill also makes changes to the rules when they resume in 2017.

It repeals a rule that says utilities must get half of their renewable energy from in-state
sources, which means that the companies can meet the requirements with low-cost options.

The bill also makes it easier for utilities to meet benchmarks for energy efficiency by
expanding the types of projects that count toward the standards.

Ohio is one of 29 states and the District of Columbia that have some form of a
renewable-energy mandate. In 18 of those states, there have been proposals to repeal, reduce or
otherwise weaken the standards, and Ohio is the only place in which a proposal has become law,
according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

On the energy efficiency rules, Indiana is the only other state to pull back. It repealed its
standards earlier this year.

“Over the last 25 years, most states have been increasing their commitment to energy
efficiency and increasing their commitment to renewable energy,” said Richard Sedano, principal at
the Regulatory Assistance Project in Vermont, a nonprofit group that advises utility regulators. “
What we’re now seeing in Ohio is a retreat from that, and that’s unusual and it’s certainly getting
a lot of attention.”

Dispatch Reporter Joe Vardon contributed to this story.



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