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Economy and Business

Utilities and environmentalists argue over a blank piece of paper in Columbus
A key Senate committee hears arguments for and against repealing energy efficiency standards, but who will write the bill?

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
Cincinnati Republican Bill Seitz heads the Senate Public Utilities Committee. He's introduced a placeholder bill that could roll-back energy efficiency goals in Ohio. Similar measures in other states are being written by the conservative policy group ALEC. Seitz is a recent member of that group's board.
Courtesy of Ohio Senate
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An Ohio law that requires power companies to reduce the amount of electricity used over time is facing a determined challenge by a northeast Ohio utility.

WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports on FirstEnergy’s fight to repeal parts of the five-year-old energy efficiency mandate.


St.Clair - energy efficiency roll-back

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Power companies and environmentalists are fighting it out over energy policy this week in Columbus. There’s nothing unusual about that.

What IS strange is that both sides are arguing before the Senate Public Utilities Committee about a bill that has nothing written on it. In a rare move, committee chairman and Cincinnati Republican Bill Seitz introduced a placeholder bill - a blank piece of legislation that will ostensibly be written up after the debate.  Environmentalists want the Senate bill to STAY blank.  They say the current energy efficiency law has created thousands of clean-energy jobs, and millions in utility savings.

But FirstEnergy spokesman Doug Colafella says the state’s five-year-old efficiency standards are actually costing consumers, and didn’t anticipate cheap natural gas from fracking.

He says the customer costs of complying with the mandates, "will be a significant drain on the economy and inhibit the development of shale gas in Ohio."  Instead of saving energy, he says the mandate continues to, "artificially suppress electric demand in the state," and could impact our competitiveness.

Ohio is one of 14 states considering a roll back of energy savings bench-marks. The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council is helping to write many of those measures.  The blank placeholder bill now being debated in Ohio could also be penned by ALEC.  Chairman Bill Seitz is a recent member of that group’s board.

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