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New bill would beef up renewable energy in Ohio

Husted and top GOP House leaders were planning to unveil new legislation today that rewrites -- and beefs up -- renewable energy provisions in the governor's comprehensive utility regulation bill, pending since last fall. The new bill will be sponsored by State Rep. Jim McGregor, a Republican from Gahanna, who earlier introduced a bill requiring utilities to generate 22 percent of their power with wind, solar and other renewable technologies by 2020. They would have had to pay heavy fines if they did not meet a strict time table. The measure stalled, but parts of it are now expected to resurface.

Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted is taking a page from Gov. Ted Strickland's hymnal -- marshaling the Forces for Green in order to gain support for a utility regulation bill.

Husted and top GOP House leaders were planning to unveil new legislation today that rewrites -- and beefs up -- renewable energy provisions in the governor's comprehensive utility regulation bill, pending since last fall.

The new bill will be sponsored by State Rep. Jim McGregor, a Republican from Gahanna, who earlier introduced a bill requiring utilities to generate 22 percent of their power with wind, solar and other renewable technologies by 2020. They would have had to pay heavy fines if they did not meet a strict time table. The measure stalled, but parts of it are now expected to resurface.

Strickland's bill, weak in comparison, has been hung up in the House on the governor's insistence that FirstEnergy Corp. and other utilities not be allowed to easily throw off regulation in 2009 and base their retail rates on still-developing wholesale markets.

The issue has been whether truly competitive wholesale markets exist. Strickland maintains that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio -- not the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted is taking a page from Gov. Ted Strickland's hymnal -- marshaling the Forces for Green in order to gain support for a utility regulation bill.

Husted and top GOP House leaders were planning to unveil new legislation today that rewrites -- and beefs up -- renewable energy provisions in the governor's comprehensive utility regulation bill, pending since last fall.

The new bill will be sponsored by State Rep. Jim McGregor, a Republican from Gahanna, who earlier introduced a bill requiring utilities to generate 22 percent of their power with wind, solar and other renewable technologies by 2020. They would have had to pay heavy fines if they did not meet a strict time table. The measure stalled, but parts of it are now expected to resurface.

Strickland's bill, weak in comparison, has been hung up in the House on the governor's insistence that FirstEnergy Corp. and other utilities not be allowed to easily throw off regulation in 2009 and base their retail rates on still-developing wholesale markets.

The issue has been whether truly competitive wholesale markets exist. Strickland maintains that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio -- not the utilities -- must have the final say.

Husted does not plan to deal with that issue yet. The strategy is to beef up the green provisions, using some of McGregor's ideas; build political momentum; and then insert the language of the new McGregor bill into the governor's legislation.

The timetable calls for everything to be wrapped up by the end of March - giving the PUCO just nine months to put the new legislation into place before FirstEnergy tries to jump into wholesale markets in 2009, as permitted by existing regulatory law.

The main difference between the speaker's proposals and Strickland's plan are timetables that utilities must meet to begin helping consumers reduce electric consumption and to begin producing power with advanced energy technologies.

Strickland introduced green energy into the regulatory debate.

In order to fulfill a renewable energy campaign promise and to build support for his efforts to rein in the utilities, the governor included green mandates in his bill.

They were:

That by 2025, the state's utilities generate 25 percent of their power with advanced technologies, including 12.5 percent advanced nuclear and coal and 12.5 percent renewables such as wind, solar, fuel cells, landfill gas and other so-called biomass.

That utilities begin supporting energy efficiency programs - that is, develop programs to help consumers use less power.

The governor suggested that by 2025, the equivalent of 25 percent of the projected growth in electricity production come through efficiency upgrades rather than new power plants. Since power demand is expected to grow by 20 percent over the next 18 years, environmental groups calculated that roughly 5 percent of the projected growth would have to be sopped up with energy efficiency measures.

Environmentalists, consumer advocates and organized labor loved the concepts -- but not the proposed execution.

First, the law would not require utilities to meet interim benchmarks. And worse, they said, if a utility failed to meet the overall deadline by 2025, there would be no consequences.

Secondly, Strickland's energy efficiency program would be the weakest of the 12 states setting standards for renewable energy, they said.

As late as this week, Jack Shaner of the Ohio Environmental Council held a teleconference to complain that Strickland's measure was inadequate. The council wants energy efficiency programs to cut 1 percent of the real power sales - not projected growth - by 2025.

Shaner and a host of other environmental adovcates were invited to attend Husted's announcement today.

 


Source: http://blog.cleveland.com/b...

FEB 20 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/13436-new-bill-would-beef-up-renewable-energy-in-ohio
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