Legislator takes swipe at Honda in green-energy debate

May 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

As a
high-profile energy bill appears headed for the governor’s desk, opponents are
saying that a state legislator’s criticism of Ohio’s largest automaker was misleading and
unfair.

In debate that stretched into early yesterday, Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, called out Honda
for its opposition to Senate Bill 310, a two-year freeze on annual increases in state standards for
renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“Honda buys most of their electric from a rural electric cooperative,” he said during a lively
floor speech. “Guess what? Rural electric cooperatives are not subject to the mandates. So they get
to buy their electric without having to pay for the mandates. And by keeping the mandates, they are
able to disadvantage their competitors, GM, Ford and Chrysler, who buy from investor-owned
utilities that are subject to the mandates.

“Follow the money,” he concluded.

It’s rare for a state politician to take a public swipe at Honda, the state’s largest
international employer. A year ago, Gov. John
Kasich was in
Marysville with the president of Honda of America Manufacturing
as the company announced it
will build its next-generation supercar there.

Regardless of what Honda thinks, the bill appears headed for law. Speaker William G. Batchelder,
R-Medina, said in a statement that he strongly supports the goals of the bill and wants to pass it
before the summer recess.

The energy requirements in current law will “leave consumers paying these increasing costs,”
Batchelder said, adding that the situation is “unsustainable for the long-term stability of our
state’s energy portfolio and Ohio’s consumers.”

After
butting heads in the past week, Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, and
Kasich issued a joint statement yesterday saying the alternative-energy mandates “are now emerging
as a challenge to job creation.”

Kasich rejected a permanent freeze of renewable-energy standards. “By temporarily holding at our
current level while problems are ironed out, we keep the progress we’ve made, ensure we steadily
grow new energy sources and preserve affordable energy prices for both businesses and
consumers.”

The bill also creates a special committee to study the issues and potentially recommend
longer-term changes.

Opponents of the bill said it is ridiculous to assert that Honda’s opposition is part of an
attempt to harm competitors.

Honda had no comment in response to Seitz other than to confirm that it receives much of its
electricity from an investor-owned utility that is affected by the bill. It also buys power from
rural electric cooperatives. The company’s East Liberty plant, which makes the CR-V, is served by
Dayton Power Light, which is investor-owned.

Ted Ford, president and CEO of Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, said Honda is a model corporate
citizen.

“Why would anyone take a gratuitous shot at this company in the context of this or any bill?”
Ford said.

Honda is one of several manufacturers that oppose the bill. It was one of 18 companies that
wrote to lawmakers this week to suggest a compromise plan that the companies said would help
preserve the economic gains provided by the energy rules. Senators discussed the plan but never
officially proposed or debated it.

Seitz said yesterday it is reasonable to ask why Honda is the only major automaker opposing the
bill. “People are acting in their monetary self-interest,” he said. “That’s really what this is all
about.”

dgearino@dispatch.com

@dispatchenergy

jsiegel@dispatch.com

@phrontpage

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