Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 9:20 AM
The Ohio Senate held its first hearing on the new energy proposal that would freeze energy efficiency and renewable standards for utilities. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, this bill might be on the fast track to the governor’s office.
An earlier energy bill would’ve overhauled the state’s current energy policies relating to renewable and efficiency standards. However, a new piece of legislation simply offers to freeze both standards while a panel reviews their impact on electric bills.
These standards were created through a law passed by the General Assembly in 2008.
Opponents say this bill is actually a repeal disguised as a freeze. Their main argument is that a return to renewable and efficiency standards is not clearly spelled out in the bill.
Republican Sen. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati is chairman of the committee hearing the bill. He adamantly denies that the bill is a repeal and says it just gives the legislature time to analyze its impact.
“The world has changed substantially since 2008 with the discovery of natural gas," Seitz said. "And so I don’t think it’s proper to say that we’re going to resume the march up Old Smokey because we want a new commission with new representatives and senators to determine whether government mandates are appropriate at all in this area.”
Republican Senate President Keith Faber says he’d like to see the measure pass before summer recess starts in May.
“We know that if we do nothing on that issue we’re going to continue to see costs increase exponentially and we believe we’re at the point now where that’s going to start chasing jobs," Faber said. "I had one utility estimate that if we do nothing energy efficiency and renewables will add $20 a month to the average utility bill.”
And Republican House Speaker Bill Batchelder agrees. Advocates for efficient and renewable energy standards say a freeze is a step in the wrong direction by hurting advanced energy development and increasing Ohio’s dependence on fossil fuels.