Freeze on Clean Energy / Renewable Energy

Ohio lawmakers try again weaken efficiency, renewable energy rules but risk Governor John Kasich’s veto

Utility upgrades to power lines and power plants would count toward "energy efficiency" under proposed revisions in the state's energy efficiency standards, allowing utilities that reach state goals to collect more money as "shared savings." (Plain Dealer file)

Utility upgrades to power lines and power plants would count toward “energy efficiency” under proposed revisions in the state’s energy efficiency standards, allowing utilities that reach state goals to collect more money as “shared savings.” (Plain Dealer file)

COLUMBUS — “A showdown appears to be developing between Gov. John Kasich and GOP legislative leaders over rules requiring Ohio’s power companies to sell more power generated by renewables such as wind and solar and to help customers use less electricity by converting to more efficient lighting, appliances and equipment.

The original law, which every lawmaker but one voted to approve in 2008, required that 12.5 percent of all power sold in the state come from wind and solar and other renewable technologies by 2025.

The General Assembly suspended or ‘froze’ that mandate in 2014 after a bruising legislative battle. But the rule is scheduled to automatically come back to life Jan. 1.

Kasich has since vowed to veto any legislation that extends that freeze. During his presidential campaign, Kasich several times said he favored reasonable wind and solar development and recounted his veto threat.

Sen. William Seitz, R-Cincinnati, today released a revised version of his legislation, Senate Bill 320, which doesn’t exactly extend the freeze. Instead it delays the time when utilities will have to prove they are complying.

Reaction from the governor’s office was short and carefully worded but emphatic.

‘The governor has been clear regarding the need to work with the General Assembly to craft a bill that supports a diverse mix of reliable, low-cost energy sources while preserving the gains we have made in the state’s economy,’ said Emalee Kalmbach, Kasich’s spokeswoman.

Samantha Williams, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council and an opponent of efforts to scrap or modify the mandates, said the re-write appears ‘to be the same old junk’: cutting down money-saving energy efficiency standards, watering down what ‘counts’ as renewables and efficiency, and turning the standards into toothless, unenforceable ‘goals.'”

— John Funk, Cleveland Plain Dealer

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