A Statehouse legislative committee has advanced a bill to disable the state’s renewable energy standards, but it also removes a provision that would have undercut proposed AEP green energy projects.
The House Public Utilities Committee on Wednesday approved House Bill 114, which would turn renewable energy requirements for power companies into voluntary goals.
American Electric Power is one of the largest electric utilities in the country, with about 5.4 million customers in 11 states.
The bill is good news, though, for Columbus-based American Electric Power Company Inc. (NYSE:AEP) for what it doesn’t include: A provision that could have crippled proposed AEP wind and solar projects totaling 900 megawatts.
Cincinnati Republican Rep. Bill Seitz, the committee's chairman, had championed the provision.
“It is, I would say, a fairly direct response to that," Seiz earlier told Columbus Business First.
The provision would have allowed Ohio electric customers who shop for their power to avoid paying any extra charges approved to subsidize AEP's new power generation. Seitz said it would be unfair for customers who get their power from another provider to pay for AEP's investment. The charges instead should be bypassable, he said.
About 35 percent of AEP Ohio’s customers shop for power. Removing those customers, who number more than half a million, would mean everyone else pays more, changing the projects' financial calculus.
AEP pledged in 2015 to build more wind and solar generation in a deal with the Sierra Club. The environmental group had until then opposed a years-long effort by AEP to earn income guarantees on some of its Ohio coal plants.
The agreement calls for southeastern Ohio to host 400 megawatts of solar power in a bid to turn the area, traditionally home to fossil fuels like coal and natural gas, into a hub of solar manufacturing.