A wide range of groups have criticized Ohio lawmakers for adopting an energy bill that was controversial last December. The bill would have cut the clean energy standards and removed incentives for efficiency and renewable energy improvement. It would also have subventioned two reactors, one of which is one in Perry which is struggling and set to shut down in the near future.
While some business and green energy groups opposed it, others argued that it could have been a boon for Ohio’s economy. It also was a clear offer to electric utilities owned by investors. They’ll now be eligible for ratepayer subsidy, which could lead to ratepayers paying hundreds of millions of dollars in the next few years.
Many groups have questioned whether the bill would achieve its goals, including the creation of more jobs in the Ohio Valley and increasing investments in wind and solar farm investment. However, the House of Representatives brought the provisions back and passed it to the governor. It is expected that the Senate will also vote to approve the bill.
Although many businesses were in favor of the pledges to clean energy, they also wondered if the bill would create new jobs. Many GOP lawmakers have invested in projects to promote green energy within their districts. Rep. Casey Weinstein, for example, stated that the bill would “steer investment away” from Ohio and therefore affect Ohio’s growing solar and wind industries.
The bill was opposed by environmental groups as well as consumer rights advocates as well as free market conservatives and consumer rights advocates. They also said that the cost to ratepayers would be much more expensive than the benefit for consumers. According to the Ohio Edison Environmental Council, customers’ monthly electricity bill expenditures will increase by seven cents per month if House Bill 6 was implemented.
Energy efficiency standards are vital hedges against climate change. They improve the health of the public and reduce electricity costs. In addition they ensure that Ohio’s kids get healthier air. This is especially important given the state’s decision to close Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear plants.
A review conducted by the Ohio Power Siting Board found that self-generation wind farms located on-site are eligible for financing under the “clean-air” program. A change to the law raises the maximum power from 5 megawatts up to 20 megawatts. The bill also reduced the risk of small industrial wind farms being allowed.
Governors will be able to take the initiative and sign the legislation. It’s not clear what would happen if the bill was vetoed. The House leadership could attempt to block efforts to repeal the law as the November elections get closer. This could result in regulatory action being required to alter utility rates.
Many Ohio companies also appeared before legislative committees calling for the lifting of the clean energy freeze. They also pointed out that Ohio’s clean-energy jobs have increased by 4.6 percent over last year. Ultimately, Kasich has the chance to show leadership and communicate to businesses that Ohio has a clean energy future. He could veto it or allow it to stand to demonstrate that clean energy is a part of his vision.