December 9, 2013

Ohio Energy Bill to Overhaul State Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Mandates is Dead, Lawmakers Told Consumer Bills Would Increase

The proposed legislation to overhaul Ohio's energy efficiency and renewable energy mandates appears to be dead in committee.

Sen. William Seitz, chairman of the Senate Public Utilities Committee, cancelled this morning's committee meeting, without explanation. The committee was scheduled to vote on the bill and pass it on to the full Senate.

Seitz has not responded to a request for an interview to explain his thinking. 

Gongwer Ohio, a statehouse news service available only by subscription, reported late this morning that the Cincinnati Republican and sponsor of the legislation, is considering reviving hearings on an earlier bill that would completely eliminate any efficiency mandates or requirements that Ohio utilities sell electricity generated by wind, solar and other renewable technologies. 

That bill, offered by Sen. Kris Jordan, a Central Ohio Republican appeared in the Ohio Senate last year and again this year but stalled in committee for lack of support. 

The Senate Republican Caucus met for more than four hours Tuesday night debating whether to go forward on several bills, including Seitz's legislation, which alone took up more than 90 minutes.

The sense of the caucus, said sources not authorized to speak about the discussions, was that given the uncertainty of the impact the legislation would have on consumer electric bills the best course was to wait until January.

Ohio Consumers' Counsel Bruce Weston sent a letter to every member of the Senate yesterday warning that if the bill were passed as currently written, every Ohio household would pay as much as $528 extra over the next three years and businesses an average of $3,231 additional.

The Ohio Manufacturers' Association has led a coalition of environmental and consumer groups opposed to changing the five-year-old state law requiring electric utilities to help customers use less electricity and mandating that the power companies sell an increasing amount of power generated by wind, solar and other renewable technologies. 

FirstEnergy Corp. has been lobbying to change the mandates, arguing that the efficiency standards have interfered with normal market growth.  Some of the state's largest industries have lobbied for a loophole that would allow them to opt out of the efficiency programs. 

No comments:

Post a Comment