Plan delays Ohio renewable energy targets another 3 years

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An as-yet-to-be-introduced bill that would extend a freeze on Ohio’s renewable-energy requirements for an additional three years is already drawing opposition.

State Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, said the draft legislation circulated last week tacks another three years onto a current two-year delay in phasing in state targets for use of solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy by Ohio power companies.

Seitz tells The Associated Press he sent the bill to interested parties on different sides of the debate and “I’m giving all the Hatfields and all the McCoys the opportunity to comment” before introducing the final bill.

The law that’s on hold requires utilities to generate 25 percent of electricity from alternative and advanced sources by 2025 and to meet certain energy efficiency targets.

A compromise struck at the urging of Republican Gov. John Kasich prevented a permanent freeze of the law, as some lawmakers wanted. Instead, phase-in was delayed for two years to give lawmakers time to study the issue. If legislators fail to act by 2017, the deal calls for the law to resume as planned.

Seitz said the extra three years are needed to allow time for federal regulations to be sorted out. The U.S. Supreme Court has stayed implementation of the federal Clean Power Plan at the request of the state of Ohio and 26 other states.

The senator said the legislation supports “a greener energy future for Ohio” with program and incentives, but without mandates.

Among those already pushing to resume Ohio’s renewable targets, even before Seitz’s bill is introduced, are faith, environmental and business groups.

A coalition of interfaith leaders plans to join the environmental group Moms Air Force at a Statehouse rally on Tuesday supporting the renewable requirements.

“Because the standards have essentially been dismantled and there is no longer market certainty, clean energy businesses are hesitant to invest in Ohio,” the group said in a release. “Without increased investment in clean energy projects, harmful emissions continue to pollute Ohio’s air and put everyone’s health at risk.”

Meanwhile, 19 companies belonging to the group Ohio Advanced Energy Economy wrote Seitz last week urging that the old standards be restored.

“The legislature has a clear choice. It can create a business-friendly environment to attract investment in advanced energy or Ohio can keep the door shut on billions of dollars of benefits,” said Ted Ford, the group’s president and CEO. “By embracing advanced energy, Ohio will send a signal to the rest of the country and the world that it is laying the foundation for long-term growth and competitiveness.”

In a pair of memos to Kasich and top staffers, Seitz called the group’s assertions “poppy cock.”

“Even if you believe everything in Mr. Ford’s letter, it would be the height of folly to resume imposition of ever-increasing state energy mandates at a time when it is uncertain how they will or will not match up against the looming federal energy mandates now being litigated in court,” Seitz wrote. “Subjecting Ohio to conflicting mandates would be inefficient and costly.”

A spokesman said the governor’s office couldn’t comment on a bill that had not been introduced.

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