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Ohio renewable energy freeze up for vote after delay
Other morning headlines: State looks to trim $1 million cost to cut highway grass; Movie crews return to Cleveland
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
WKSU morning news headlines for Tuesday, May 27, 2014: 
Ohio renewable energy freeze up for vote after delay
A bill halting the phase-in of Ohio's renewable energy and efficiency standards is re-emerging after the long weekend. The contentious proposal delays targets for how much energy Ohio utilities must generate from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, by 2025. The vote was delayed to today after intensive lobbying last week. Opponents including advanced-energy companies, faith and civil-rights leaders and environmentalists have lobbied hard against the two-year pause in the standards negotiated by Gov. John Kasich and senators. Backers say mandatory targets encourage industry growth and reduce coal use. Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican pushing the bill, says it "has nothing to do with coal." He said Ohio electric users are unnecessarily paying hidden electric charges to help companies meet the thresholds.

State looks to trim $1 million cost to cut highway grass
The state is spending roughly $1 million in search of a less costly and easier way to cut the grass and manage the trees and shrubs along Ohio's interstates and highways. The Dayton Daily News reports that the effort began last year with $177,000 spent on the first phase of a consulting contract with the Kent-based Davey Resource Group. The company's recommended changes included spraying chemicals in certain areas to limit the growth of grass and weeds. The project's second phase tops $1 million. The consultant is expected to present alternatives to mowing the grass at the state's usual rate of four times a year.

Movie crews return to Cleveland

Movie crews are returning to Cleveland this summer. Filming for the new movie "Criminal Activities" starring John Travolta starts today through the end of June. Today, filming will close portions of Chester Avenue, East 12th Street and Walnut Street from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. No road is scheduled to be closed for more than about eight hours, which will be welcome news to commuters after the busy West Shoreway was closed for two weeks last summer during filming of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.


Men indicted on charges stemming from crop assistance fraud
A federal grand jury has indicted five southeastern Ohio men on charges including theft of public money in a scheme to defraud a federal crop assistance program. The men are accused of defrauding the federal Non-Insured Crop Assistance Program. It provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when a natural disaster causes low yields or loss of inventory or prevents planting. The indictment seeks forfeiture of more than $1.5 million from the alleged crimes. The indictment says one man recruited the others to apply for payments and turn them over to him after keeping part for themselves.

AEP proposes rate cut
American Electric Power is planning to cut rates for most residential customers by more than 12 percent. A typical household bill would be 12.6 percent less than under current rates under a plan submitted by the utility. That's based on forecasts of market conditions next year, when the plan would take effect. The Columbus Dispatch reports that a trial-like regulatory hearing process to implement the cut begins next week. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio will issue a ruling later this year, and the plan would take effect in June 2015. The rate would fall because AEP will be buying power through an auction process in which power-plant operators compete to offer the lowest price. AEP has about 1.5 million customers in Ohio.

High court to hear arguments in open records case
The Ohio Supreme Court is ready to hear arguments in a legal dispute over the state's decision to withhold records from a political blogger documenting threats against Gov. Kasich. Lawyers for Plunderbund and the Ohio Department of Public Safety address the court today. Court documents indicate the Democratic-leaning political blog sought investigation files of any threats against Kasich or his staff in an August 2012 public-records request. The department refused to release the records, citing security. Plunderbund argues that Ohio's public records law doesn't allow for blanket security-related exemptions, but provides for partial release of the documents with sensitive parts blacked out. 

Gas prices higher following Memorial Day
Gas prices in Ohio are higher to start the post-holiday work week. The cost for a gallon of regular gas in Ohio was averaging $3.81 in today’s survey from auto club AAA and its partners. That's up 11 cents from a week ago. Today’s price is about 4 cents higher than a month ago, and it's 11 cents higher last year at this time. Analysts still expect prices to drop at a moderate rate into the summer, due to ample U.S. crude oil stocks and other factors.

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