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Senator Defends New Provision in Bill Freezing Renewable Energy Standards

Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 10:19 AM

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Workers install solar panels in Ohio. (Wayne National Forest on Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/waynenf/3725848206)

A new provision that was added to the new energy bill is gaining a lot of attention from the alternative energy industry. Earlier this week, Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow talked to those experts about their concerns -- now he talks one of the supporters of the bill to get his take on the measure.

Alternative energy experts say a provision in the new energy bill would dramatically hurt renewable development in the state. The measure would demand any future energy contracts contain language that voids the contract if the General Assembly tries to change this law again.

Republican Sen. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati is chairman of the committee that approved the legislation with this provision.

He says the provision only impacts utilities that sign contracts to purchase renewable energy resources. The senator says utilities will lock themselves into these agreements with no way out so they pass the cost on to the ratepayers. Seitz says this provision will change that.

“If the law changes so that utilities no longer need to acquire all of that renewable power in response to state mandates, the utility will be able to abrogate change and renegotiate the contract so as to relieve the ratepayers of the duty for paying for overpriced power.”

The wind energy industry has said this provision would discourage companies from creating projects and investing in Ohio. But Seitz sees it a different way.

“They’re interested in those companies coming to Ohio and building taxpayer-subsidized wind farms and selling their overpriced power to Ohio utilities,” he said.

Alternative energy advocates have said these projects have invested more than $775 million in these wind farms, but Seitz counters that those projects are heavily subsidized.

The House is currently holding hearings on the new energy bill.

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Economy, Energy, Environment

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