Senate GOP now proposes 2-year freeze in Ohio’s green-energy standards

May 7, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Senate Republicans have a new plan for “green” energy standards following negotiations with Gov.
John Kasich, a proposal that was immediately attacked by consumer advocates and many others.

The new plan, an amendment to Senate Bill 310, calls for a two-year freeze in annual increases
in state standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency. This is in contrast to the permanent
freeze that is now in the bill.

The new plan, to be released today, is a response to the concerns Kasich raised in a meeting
last week, when the Republican governor may have
threatened to veto the bill if changes were not made, Republican Senate
President Keith Faber of Celina said.

“After much reluctance, we’ve said to the governor if this is what you want, we will make it
happen,” Faber said.

During the two-year freeze, a special committee would study whether to make other changes to the
energy rules and make recommendations to the legislature. If lawmakers do not set a new course in
that time, then annual increases would re-start in 2017 and continue until 2027, Faber said.

Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Kasich, would say only that “we are continuing to talk with Senate
leaders” about the revamped bill.

Faber credited
bill sponsor Sen. Troy Balderson of Zanesville for crafting the changes.

“He did yeoman’s work,” Faber said.

Reaction was swift yesterday evening, with opponents of S.B. 310 saying the new plan is not an
improvement.

“In our opinion, it is in many ways worse than Senate Bill 310 as introduced,” Dayna Baird
Payne, a lobbyist for the American Wind Energy Association and renewable-energy clients.

She pointed to several parts of the proposal that she said will undermine clean-energy
businesses.

Senate Republicans had the opportunity to compromise with critics but have not done so, said
Dave Rinebolt, executive director of Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy. He thinks the new plan
would lead to uncertainty about the standards and steer investment away from the state.

“This isn’t a good business environment,” he said of the new bill.

Jack Shaner, deputy director of the Ohio Environmental Council, issued this statement: “This is
a freeze from which Ohio may never thaw. Gov. Kasich, please say it isn’t so!”

Among the other changes with the new plan:

• Starting in 2017, large commercial and industrial energy- users would have the option to opt
out of the standards.

• Households would have the option to opt out if the costs of meeting the standards ever exceed
3 percent of the generation portion of the electricity bill.

• Utilities would no longer be required to purchase half of their renewable energy from in-state
sources.

The debate deals with energy standards that were set by a 2008 law, which said utilities had to
meet a series of annual benchmarks until 2025.

S.B. 310 has
split the business community. It has the support of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce
and other statewide business groups, and of FirstEnergy, the Akron-based utility. It is opposed by
key employers such as Honda and trade associations such as the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association.

jvardon@dispatch.com

@joevardon

dgearino@dispatch.com

@dispatchenergy

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