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Ohio


How Ohio's energy standards will change
Besides the freeze, the law ends the requirement that half of the energy be bought from Ohio sources
by WKSU's ANDY CHOW
and TERRELL JOHNSON


Reporter
Andy Chow
 
Gov. Kasich faces big decision
Courtesy of WKSU photo file
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In The Region:

A bill to freeze the state’s energy standards is heading to the governor’s desk. Over the course of a year and a half, the energy bill took many forms. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow breaks down what the final legislation looks like.

LISTEN: new bill passed

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S.B. 310 freezes Ohio’s efficiency and renewable standards. This means, for two years, utilities will not have to comply with benchmarks that require them to eventually reach 22 percent energy efficiency and have the grid run on 25 percent alternative energy by 2025.

The bill does nothing to change the actual benchmarks, so in 2017 the standards will go back into place and utilities must achieve each annually mandated goal, only this time the final benchmarks are set for 2027. So to actually increase, decrease or repeal those standards, the General Assembly would be required to, once again, pass a separate legislation. Opponents of the bill believe this is highly possible given the majority’s strong attitude against the standards since 2012.

During the freeze, a study panel will analyze the cost benefits of the standards. Only legislators will be appointed to sit on this panel, with the chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio acting as a non-voting member.

Republican Rep. Kristina Roegner of Hudson says this is a bill everyone should be excited about.

“The purpose of Senate Bill 310 is to protect all of Ohioans’ electricity bills from skyrocketing over the next 10 years due to ever increasing government mandates,” Roegner says.

Some GOP lawmakers object
But fellow Republican Rep. Mike Duffey of Worthington does not see it that way and believes the state’s energy policies need more adjustment.

“The big objection to 310 that I have is—right now under 221 existing law—we as consumers pay extra money on our electric bill every day to pay the utilities to do energy efficiency and renewable projects," Duffey says. "310 essentially guts the last piece of that and now makes it so that we have to pay under mandates utilities companies for doing nothing.”

Duffey was one of five Republicans who voted against the bill. Two Democrats voted for it.

Aside from the freeze, the bill eliminated the requirement for utilities to get at least half of their alternative energy from Ohio-based sources.

First in the nation
The legislation also requires utilities to list the costs of the renewable and efficiency requirements on a customer’s monthly electric bill starting in 2015.

With the governor’s signature, Ohio will become the first state to halt its efficiency standards.

Over the course of the debate, many groups have made claims over what will happen if the freeze were to take effect from the advanced energy industry who says the state will lose billions of dollars in investment to industrial energy users who have warned that the current standards are driving up electric prices.

Now these advocates and lobbyists have the next two years to find out the true impact to halting the standards.

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