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Government and Politics

Utility backed bill could wipe out Ohio's wind industry
FirstEnergy backed SB 58 would roll-back energy efficiency standards, and also wipe out much of Ohio's renewable energy industry 

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
A wind farm in Van Wert County, Ohio was built in 2012 by Iberdrola Renewables. Ohio's wind industry could come to a standstill if a proposed Senate bill is enacted. SB58 calls for an end to renewable energy and efficiency standards mandates in the state.
Courtesy of Charles Carper Flickr CC
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A bill in the Ohio Senate would make Ohio the first state to rescind renewable energy mandates that require utilities to increase the amount of electricity produced by wind and solar power, and to increase energy efficiency. 

WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports, the measure could wipe out Ohio’s wind industry.


LISTEN: St.Clair on renewable roll-back bill

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Since 2008, Ohio utilities have been required to meet increasing renewable energy goals, and by 2025, 25 percent of the power used in the state needs to come from renewable sources.  About three dozen states have similar requirements, but Ohio could be the first to roll them back. Senate Bill 58 would gut the requirements, which include energy efficiency goals that are opposed by FirstEnergy and other utilities.

A coalition of manufacturers and environmental groups are trying to water down the bill.  Lorry Wagner, president of the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation, or LEEDCo, is part of a group that introduced an amendment on Friday that eases some of the energy efficiency requirements, but retains the renewable mandates.  Wagner says if passed as is, the bill would stop $1.6 billion in proposed wind projects.

“They have their permits. They are waiting to start construction. So if this bill is passed, $1.6 billion in capital investment will not be made in Ohio.  So the wind industry will go operate in the other 49 states that welcome it.”

Wagner says LEEDCo’s planned 18 Megawatt off-shore wind project would likely go forward even without the renewable energy credits.  

A committee vote is expected this week in the Ohio Senate.

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