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Economy and Business


Ohio Gov. Kasich is expected to sign a bill freezing Ohio's energy standards
Statehouse Republicans say the standards could cost consumers, Statehouse Democrats say the freeze is bad for business and future generations
by WKSU's ANDY CHOW


Reporter
Andy Chow
 
The bill freezes standards for Ohio to get 25 percent of its energy from renewable resources such as solar.
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It’s now up to Gov. John Kasich to decide the future of Ohio’s renewable energy standards. That’s because the Republican-dominated House and Senate have agreed to freeze the benchmarks. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, the issue continues to stir strong debate on both sides of the aisle.

LISTEN: Next step for the energy freeze

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The bill’s journey to the governor’s desk has been a year and a half in the making. Legislators have held hours and hours of hearings about Ohio’s energy standards since the beginning of 2013. the end result is a bill that freezes the benchmarks for utilities, which were supposed to get 25 percent of their energy from alternative sources by 2025. This bill stops the standards for two years as a commission performs a cost-benefit analysis. 

No more low-hanging fruit
Republican Rep. Peter Stautberg of Cincinnati says the General Assembly had to make some type of change to the current standards which have, among other things, encouraged people to buy energy efficient appliances. 

“The low-hanging fruit is disappearing. Consumers can only consume so many light bulbs. And only so many refrigerators can be hauled away and only so many letters can adjust and modify consumer behavior.” 

Stautberg says consumers are taking on too much of the burden to pay for these standards. 

“At the end of the day, we don’t think it’s good policy to require all electric ratepayers to pay into the pot to then benefit a few. We think that the free market works — efficiency makes sense — and we can all make that decision for ourselves.” 

Turning our backs
But House Democrats warned that the bill could pose long-term consequences on the environment and job creation. Democratic Rep. Mike Foley of Cleveland says turning away from standards means furthering the impact of climate change. 

“The Ohio House is about to turn its back on future generations, who will live with the fact that when Ohio had the chance to diversify its energy sources and fight for a cleaner planet, it faltered and left behind a less clean and more inhospitable planet.” 

Meanwhile, Rep. Dan Ramos, a Democrat from Lorain, claimed this bill will drive companies out of the state. 

It tells the free market — it tells business — Ohio’s not for you if you want to create jobs in the alternative energy sector.” 

Republican Rep. Kristina Roegner of Hudson emphasized the fact that the bill is only a freeze that’s lifted in two years if the General Assembly takes no further action. 

Kasich is expected to sign off
The House passed the measure but not completely along party lines. Several Republicans voted against the bill, including Rep. Mike Duffey of Worthington. Duffey says the legislation didn’t do enough to benefit consumers. Two Democrats voted in favor of the freeze. 

The Senate concurred on the House’s version of the bill which means it now heads to Gov. John Kasich. A spokesperson for Kasich said the governor plans to sign the bill. 



Related Links & Resources
From the Plain Dealer: Freezing Ohio's renewable energy standards: How they voted

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