Library filed under Energy Policy from Ohio
A proposed two-year freeze on the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards is headed to Gov. John Kasich’s desk after passing final legislative votes on Wednesday. The freeze will give lawmakers time to study the mandates, which critics said are unachievable.
Gov. John Kasich intends to sign a two-year freeze of Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates, an administration spokesman said Wednesday.
The bill includes a two-year freeze on standards that apply to electricity utilities that address renewable energy and energy efficiency. It also ends a requirement that utilities purchase half of their renewable energy from within the state.
Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, described complaints linking the easing of Ohio’s green-energy standards to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a national conservative group, as “ridiculous.” ...The fact that so many states are exploring changes to their rules is a sign that the rules are flawed, said Mike O’Neal, president and CEO of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.
The committee heard well over a dozen groups and individuals in favor of the freeze. Some of those speaking made it clear they just do not want wind turbine farms near them. Others, including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business, testified that the law as it now stands is costing ratepayers too much money.
The new bill would freeze Ohio’s alternative energy requirements at current levels, and create a legislative panel to determine whether any changes are needed. If no changes are made, the current rules would resume in 2017. Ohio’s senate approved the bill last week, and it now heads to the House.
"Our caucus has worked tirelessly over the last several years to reduce government mandates so we can maintain an environment that promotes job growth and preserves existing jobs in Ohio. While well-intentioned, Senate Bill 221 (approved in 2008) created many mandates that will leave consumers paying these increasing costs unless properly reviewed and updated."
The measure calls for a two-year freeze in standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency while a legislative panel studies issues related to the standards. If the legislature takes no action in response to the study, the standards would automatically resume in 2017.
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.
A compromise emerged Monday in the standoff between Gov. John Kasich and Ohio Senate Republicans over energy efficiency and renewable energy rules. Led by Sen. Frank LaRose of Copley Township, a moderate Republican, and with the support of at least three other Republican senators, the proposal would soften the impact on monthly bills for energy efficiency and renewable power.
Faber said the bill already had been destined to undergo changes before it is passed out of committee and the Senate. “We need to understand how (Kasich’s) changes would work,” Faber said. He said Kasich’s concerns are rooted “more in the application of the freeze than anything,” but he noted that he had not reviewed Kasich’s specific policy suggestions.
“Because of this uncertainty and the changing economic and energy landscapes since the enactment of [the 2008 energy law], it is essential that we act to protect all Ohioans’ electricity bills from continuing to rise, and therefore, maintain the status quo while we carefully review the best way to move forward,” Mr. Balderson said.
Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, has long tried to cut the in-state requirement. Ohio Sen. Kris Jordan, a Delaware County Republican, wants to repeal the renewables mandate altogether. ...Seitz said the country’s recession reduced the need for additional energy production and Ohio’s natural-gas boom has weakened the need for wind power. “We should be able to buy power from wherever it is cheapest,” he said. “There shouldn’t be a protected bucket for Ohio wind developers.”
Get ready to hear a lot about hitting the “pause button” on the state’s benchmarks for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Ohio Senate Republicans are putting together a plan that would freeze the annual targets at current levels while a special panel studies the issue.
In an interview with Media Trackers, Sen. Jordan expressed his belief that SB 34 was gaining traction in the legislature. “My bill is much more simple, and it just lets customers pick the winners and losers in our economy, as opposed to a bunch of know-it-all politicians,” he said, adding, “You rip the Band-Aid off, you stop the problem, which is that these renewables necessarily drive the cost up for all consumers.”
At least three sets of major amendments were submitted late Friday to the Public Utilities Committee of the Ohio Senate, where Chairman William Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, has been holding hearings on his bill, a proposal that opponents say would effectively abolish the five-year-old regulations.
The measure would create a series of exceptions to the state’s energy-efficiency standards and remove a requirement that utilities purchase half of their renewable energy from in-state sources. It would do so by changing provisions of a 2008 law that says electric utilities have to meet an escalating series of benchmarks for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
[Senator] Seitz believes the economics that convinced lawmakers to approve the legislation five years ago have proved incorrect. Seitz argued that shale gas has not only lowered the cost of electricity but also has persuaded utilities not to build any more coal-fired power plants, which would require costly emission controls. He also noted that demand has not increased as most predicted. "In short the assumptions upon which Senate Bill 221 (the 2008 law) were based have all turned out to be false," he wrote, "and it would be the height of foolishness to fail to account for these changed circumstances."
Much of the opposition to the legislation is from developers who are essentially receiving a subsidy because of the requirement to produce much of that energy in Ohio, Seitz said. He argued his proposal would help the environment but create more competition to produce that energy. “Cry me a river,” Seitz said of critics. “Is it about being green or making people money?”
Mr. Seitz noted that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down, as a violation of the Constitution’s interstate commerce clause, a provision in Oklahoma that had a buy-Oklahoma provision for coal. A federal appeals-court ruling also has shed doubt on an in-state mandate included in Michigan’s renewable-energy standards. So far, Ohio’s standard has not been legally challenged. Ohio Environmental Council spokesman Jack Shaner said the proposed changes would send the wrong message to wind turbine and solar panel manufacturers that their market here is not as assured.