Ohio House panel’s leader blocks compromise green-energy plan

May 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

A rewrite of Ohio’s “green” energy rules has cleared an Ohio House committee after the chairman
refused to allow debate on a proposed compromise that had been suggested by manufacturers and
consumer advocates.

The measure is heading to the House floor, where supporters say they expect it to pass as soon
as today. The
Senate passed it this month.

Senate Bill 310 would place a two-year freeze on state standards for renewable energy and energy
efficiency. It also would change the standards when they resume in 2017.

Rep. Mike Duffey, R-Worthington, asked the panel to consider a substitute bill that was based on
suggestions from the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association and the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel.
It would have reduced the freeze to one year and made several other changes.

The committee chairman, Rep. Peter Stautberg, R-Anderson Township, declined to recognize Duffey’s
motion.

Stautberg also ruled out of order a separate attempt to vote on a one-year freeze, this one by
Mark Romanchuk, R-Mansfield, saying it was submitted after the deadline for amendments. However,
Duffey reminded him that some of the chairman’s own amendments also were drafted late.

“Maybe we dismissed the House rules. Maybe they don’t matter,” Duffey said. “The chairman
ignores his own deadline that he imposes on the rest of us.”

Stautberg said that it was within his discretion to rule on amendments and that he was pleased
with the final version of this “very thoughtful bill.”

The proposed compromise is the most recent of several attempts by manufacturers and consumer
advocates to rein in the parts of the bill that they say will lead to job losses and utility-rate
increases. Their plan’s provisions include reducing the energy-efficiency standards by about
one-third in addition to the one-year freeze.

Despite the support of
major employers such as Honda and the backing of legislators in both parties,
legislative leaders have not allowed the alternative plan to come to a vote. Key legislators have
said they are not aware of the competing plan.

Last week, the bill’s lead sponsor,
Sen. Troy
Balderson, R-Zanesville, said the compromise plan “ did not come across my desk.”

Yesterday, Stautberg said he had not seen Duffey’s proposal, so he could not comment on it.

Duffey said that many Republicans are uncomfortable with the bill and would like the opportunity
to vote on a compromise.

The bill has the support of electricity utilities and many business groups. It is opposed by
environmental groups, consumer advocates and some businesses.

The House Public Utilities Committee passed the bill in a 13-9 vote yesterday. One Democrat
voted for it (Rep. Sandra Williams, D-Cleveland) and two Republicans voted against it (Duffey and
Romanchuk).

The panel made two notable changes to the proposal:

• Canadian hydroelectric power would not count toward Ohio renewable-energy standards. Critics
have said the previous version of the bill was opening the door to using Canadian power in this
way.

• Limits on so-called “shared savings” payments that utilities can get for certain types of
energy-efficiency projects were altered. Critics have said that the previous wording would have
allowed utilities to be paid for things that they would do anyway.

dgearino@dispatch.com

jsiegel@dispatch.com

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