For the past few years Ohio’s energy future has been in the balance. Backed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the fossil fuel industry, Ohio legislators introduced bills in 2014 that would freeze renewable and energy efficiency standards in the state for two years while lawmakers studied the proposed requirements, and Governor John Kasich signed them into law. In 2016, similar bills made their way to the governor’s desk, but Kasich vetoed them this time around. The Ohio legislature still can’t take a hint – currently HB 114 has passed in the Ohio House of Representatives. The bill eliminates clean energy requirements from the state and significantly reduces requirements on utilities to reduce peak demand and provide energy efficiency programs. The bill will now go to the Ohio Senate. If it passes there, will Kasich veto it again?
Declaring that wind and solar power no longer need the assistance of a state law forcing power companies to support and sell green energy, the Ohio House of Representatives today voted to end the state’s green mandates created nine years ago.
The vote was 65 to 29, with three Republicans joining Democrats to oppose the legislation.
House Bill 114 makes the renewable energy mandates voluntary goals and completely erases them from law in 2026.
It also dilutes the requirement that traditional electric utilities reduce peak demand by developing energy efficiency programs for their customers.
First, it allows utilities to count efficiency upgrades they make to their own equipment. And it reduces the requirement that utilities reduce peak demand, compared to demand in 2009, from 22 percent in 2027 to 17 percent.
And it allows businesses to opt out of their utility’s energy efficiency program — along with the extra charges added to their bills to pay for the programs. Previous legislation allowed only heavy industry to opt out.
More draconian than legislation (H.B. 554) approved in December — and vetoed by Gov. John Kasich — the bill now goes to the Ohio Senate, where there is no companion bill.
Senate President Larry Obhof wasn’t sure Wednesday whether his chamber could deliver a veto-proof vote. Last session, the bill cleared the upper chamber in an 18-13 vote — an override vote would require 20 yays to pass.
“[Republicans] had five no votes in the last General Assembly,” Obhof told reporters. “This bill actually goes further than that one does and all five no votes are back.”
Obhof added that he was uncertain how the handful of new senators would vote on the measure.
In an interview earlier this month, Obhof said he was concerned about the impact of the latest bill (the fifth one) on Ohio’s reputation as a good place to do business.
“I think it is probably very frustrating for people who want to do business in the state of Ohio who are deciding whether to invest here or not that you never know from one year to another what kind of policy changes might be proposed,” he said.