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Government and Politics

Battle lines drawn in fight over Ohio energy bill
Utilities are pushing for reforms to Ohio's renewable and energy efficiency standards, environmentalists and consumer groups want to keep the current law in place

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
New wind and solar projects in Ohio could face a sunset if SB58 is passed in the Ohio legislature. It rolls back requirements for renewable energy produced in Ohio starting in 2019. The bill also makes it easier for utilities to meet energy efficiency benchmarks.
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Battle lines are being drawn this week ahead of a vote on a bill that changes how utilities calculate mandatory energy reduction efforts.  The measure also rolls back renewable energy requirements in Ohio. WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports.


LISTEN: Debate over SB 58

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Senate Bill 58 faces a committee vote this week.  The Republican sponsored measure pits environmentalists and consumer advocates against Ohio’s major energy providers.  If passed, it will alter a set of standards in place since 2008 that require utilities to help customers reduce energy use.   Marty Berkowitz with the Ohio Consumers Council says the current ways of measuring improvements in energy efficiency should remain.

He says, “the energy proficiency provisions have been working.”

Berkowitz says the new law provides a windfall to utilities without increasing energy savings for consumers, and "all the profits from these programs would go to the utilites." 

FirstEnergy’s Doug Colafella puts it another way.  He calls it, "good common sense legislation.”

Colafella says the changes to how energy efficiency efforts are measured will lower costs and provide shared savings for utilities.

“And based on the number of kilowatt-hours we save, we share in that success with our customers -  we will share in some of the energy efficiency savings that result from these programs.”

The new energy bill also changes incentives for renewable energy production.  After five years, instead of half the clean energy coming  from inside Ohio, utilities can purchase it from far outside the region.  Critics say that change could cost thousands of jobs in Ohio’s wind and solar industries. 

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