Ohio lawmakers seek further freeze on renewable, efficiency standards
- This week, the Ohio House of Representatives will mull over whether to permanently suspend the state's efficiency and renewable energy portfolio standards, with critics saying that the markets should determine how those technologies are adopted, the Plains Dealer reports.
- House Rep. Ron Amstutz (R) introduced H.B. 554 as a companion bill to S.B. 320, which was introduced by Sen. Bill Seitz (R) last month. Both aim to suspend the state's renewable and efficiency standards before the end of the year.
- Both standards were temporarily frozen in 2014 through similar legislation. The standards will go back into effect starting in 2017 unless the bills are passed.
Some Ohio lawmakers are looking to extend a controversial freeze on the state's renewables and efficiency goals signed into law a few years back. The House bill aims to permanently suspend the mandates unless the General Assembly votes to bring them back, while the Senate bill would extend the freeze an additional three years.
Sen. Seitz, the sponsor of the Senate bill, told the Plains Dealer that his objective is to eliminate all state mandates for renewables and efficiency. Environmental groups are likely to oppose the bills, the news outlet reports. Critics have said ending the state mandates will hamper future development of renewable energy and the adoption of energy efficient technologies.
Discussion around a possible extension to the freeze began last year when a 12-member panel of Ohio state legislators tasked with evaluating the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates recommended that they stay frozen at current levels indefinitely, instead of rising gradually as initially intended.
Ohio's energy portfolio standard, passed in 2008, require utilities to source 25% of their electricity from alternative sources (including nuclear) by 2025, with half that amount coming from renewables. They were also direct utilities to cut power usage 22% by that time.
The decision to freeze the standards in 2014 caught some advocates by surprise. At that time, no other states had rolled back a renewable energy mandate program that was already in place, but Governor John Kasich (R) signed the proposal to "check back to see if everything's OK."
He appeared to reverse course slightly and warned lawmakers not to "gut" the standards on the campaign trail. He said last fall that a "continued freeze of Ohio's energy standards is unacceptable."
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