TV ads, arguments a prelude to expected vote on green-energy bill

May 21, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Both sides in a debate about whether to freeze Ohio’s “green” energy standards pressed their
cases today at the Statehouse and beyond, ahead of a House vote that may happen as soon as
Wednesday.

Opponents said the proposal, Senate Bill 310, would lead to an increase in utility bills, an
increase in pollution and the loss of jobs.

“We are on the verge of making one of the biggest public policy mistakes that we have seen in
this state in many, many years,” said Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ed FitzGerald in a
conference call.

At the same time, a House panel held a daylong hearing in which about 50 people testified,
including the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville. He said the freeze is necessary to
allow for time to study whether the rules are helping or hurting businesses.

“One thing is clear: There is increasing uncertainty about the effect of the mandates on
ratepayers,” he said.

The bill passed the Senate earlier this month.

A group opposing the bill began airing a television ad today that says the bill will “ send
us back to the Rust Belt.” The ad is now running the central Ohio media market and may be expanded
to other markets, according to the sponsor, Ohio Advanced Energy Economy.

The proposal calls for a two-year freeze in standards for renewable energy and energy
efficiency, along with changes to the standards when they resume in 2017. For example, the bill
says that utilities would no longer be required to buy half of their renewable energy from in-state
sources.

At the hearing, opponents of the bill outnumbered supporters by about three-to-one. Many of
the supporters had testified at hearings last week.

“What does a moratorium do to the businesses that provide energy-efficiency services and
employ Ohioans who implement the programs?” asked Rob Kelter, an attorney for the Environmental Law
and Policy Center, in written testimony. “What business can sit idle for two years and just pick up
where it left off?”

Michael McDorman, president and CEO of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, urged
lawmakers to support the bill, saying the freeze “is needed to ensure we are headed in the right
direction.”

House Democrats asked Balderson how the bill would affect the state’s ability to comply with
upcoming federal rules on power-plant emissions. The long-anticipated rules will likely be released
in the next few weeks by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“I’m not familiar with federally what you’re referring to,” Balderson said. “I was never made
aware of that.”

Rep. Mike Stinziano, D-Columbus, asked for Balderson’s view of an alternative plan submitted
by a coalition of companies – including Honda, DuPont and Campbell Soup – that would reduce the
energy-efficiency standards without freezing them.

Balderson said the plan “did not come across my desk” so he could not comment on it.

dgearino@dispatch.com

@dispatchenergy

Comments are closed.