The Ohio House of Representatives has passed legislation 65-30 that would make Ohio’s renewable energy standards optional, promoting business growth in the state, said Rep. Louis W. Blessing III, R-Colerain.
House Bill 114, sponsored by Blessing, who represents Greater Harrison, reflects some recommendations made by the Energy Mandates Study Committee in 2015. The bill calls for reforming Ohio’s law on renewable energy to remove mandates, and making them optional.
Clean energy advocates, including Ohio Citizens Action, however, argue the study committee’s report is flawed because it relies on improper and outdated assumptions about costs and fails to fully evaluate the benefits of the standards.
Nevertheless, Blessing said if made law HB 114 would decrease the state’s energy efficiency benchmarks from about 22 percent to 17 percent. The bill also would allow all mercantile customers to opt out of paying for energy efficiency mandates, and all customers to opt out of paying for renewable energy mandates.
The mandates have caused consumers’ electric bills on the electric generation part of the bill to rise 7 percent to 9 percent since 2008, he said.
Replacing state-mandated thresholds of renewable energy with goals that would have no penalties attached for non-compliance already is occurring and electric utilities are moving toward renewables, said Blessing.
“You don’t need mandates to have clean energy,” he said.
Still, the bill’s future remains in doubt. Gov. John Kasich vetoed a similar measure in December, and has indicated he would veto HB 114, which now moves to the Senate.
The Senate also passed the vetoed bill three months ago but without veto-proof margins, and there are doubts that enough has changed since then, according to Rep. Michael Ashford, D, Toledo.
The House needs 60 votes to override. The Senate needs 20, and it had 18 in December.
Ashford and Kasich argue that HB 114 if made law would harm job creation.
“If this is not a jobs killer, I don’t know what is…,” Ashford told the Toldedo Blade. “We have an opportunity to create jobs now in this state by going green, and we’ve decided to turn our back on it.”
Supporters of the bill, including major power users, claim the mandates have reached the point that they are increasing customers’ costs.