May 11, 2014

New Energy Bill Delays Ohio Green Targets 2 Years

A proposal headed to the Ohio House freezes state-set targets for the amount of energy that utilities must produce from renewable sources such as solar and wind, but stops short of repealing the targets permanently.

The closely watched bill cleared the Ohio Senate just after 1 a.m. Thursday, about 15 hours after a compromise was struck. Lawmakers who initially sought to permanently freeze phasing in the 7-year-old standards backed off Wednesday.

The Republican-led Senate worked with Gov. John Kasich on an alternative that pauses progress on the targets for two years as a legislative committee looks at the issue.

Public Utilities Chairman Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, noted that amendments of both Republicans and Democrats were accepted in the final version.

State Sen. Eric Kearney, the committee's ranking Democrat, criticized the process. He said the final version of the bill was subject to no testimony, and lawmakers were pressed to read and analyze its contents before a vote.

Questions and answers on the bill as it stands:


Q: What are the targets?

A: Under a 2008 law, Ohio utilities were required to produce 12.5 percent of energy from renewable sources, such as wind, solar and captured heat, and 12.5 percent from advanced sources, such as clean coal, by 2025. The law also required companies to help customers reduce electricity use 22 percent by 2025.


Q: What happens to the targets under the Senate bill?

A: Targets for advanced energy are eliminated. Targets for renewable energy are frozen for 2015 and 2016 and a condition is eliminated that required at least half of those resources to come from Ohio. The benchmarks will resume as scheduled in 2017 unless lawmakers act on a new study commission's recommendations before then. The new date for clean energy and efficiency targets to be met is 2027.


Q: What's the makeup of the study commission?

A: 13 members: six from the Ohio House and six from the state Senate, including no more than four of the same political party from either chamber, and the chair of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.


Q: Are lawmakers required to accept the commission's recommendations?

A: No. The bill states that it is the intent of the Legislature in the future to pass legislation reducing targets for energy efficiency, use of renewable energy resources and for reduced peak demand at power plants.


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