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Effort to Overhaul Ohio’s Renewable Energy Standards Stalls in Committee

Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 9:26 AM

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After months of hearings and debates, it appears the effort to roll back Ohio’s energy policies isn’t going anywhere until after the holiday break. As Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, some believe the bill is losing support.

The energy bill that would overhaul Ohio’s renewable and efficiency policies has stalled in committee. The highly-contentious issue was scheduled for a hearing and a possible vote on Wednesday, but that was called off.

With the cancellation of Wednesday’s hearing and the Senate prepared to go on break until the new year, it appears the energy bill might be losing support in the Republican caucus.

Republican Sen. Bill Seitz is the committee chairman and sponsor of the legislation. He released a statement to say he canceled the meeting to give members more time to consider the provisions of the bill, nothing more.

But Sen. Lou Gentile, a top Democrat on the committee, says it’s a sign that legislators are beginning to question the proposal.

“I think it’s lost significant momentum,” Gentile said. “I think there’s concern, as I said, in both parties, both Democrats and Republicans, because the investors and utilities are meeting their benchmarks.”

Both sides agree that the bill would make changes to a consumer’s electric bill. But supporters say the legislation would save Ohioans from exploding costs, while opponents say ratepayers would be forced to dish out more money that would pad the pocketbooks of utilities.

Doug Colafella with FirstEnergy, a major supporter of the bill, says he continues to see increased support outside of the Statehouse.

“In terms of legislative support, I don’t want to comment on that, but what I can tell you is that the number of businesses that are stepping forward and supporting the bill grows every day,” Colafella said.

Seitz plans to take a revamped approach to energy overhaul next year—which includes continued work on the bill, meetings on another piece of legislation that would repeal Ohio’s efficiency standards altogether and a legal fight against the so-called Buy Ohio provision, which requires utilities to get a portion of renewable energy from Ohio-based sources.

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Energy, Government/Politics

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