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Renewable Energy Standards Divide Ohio Lawmakers

photo of Keith Faber and John Kasich
Karen Kasler

One of the biggest fights waiting for lawmakers when they return to work after the Nov. 8 election will have to do with renewable energy in Ohio. The debate could come down to differing views between Gov. John Kasich and a leader in his own party.

Time is running out on a two-year freeze on the green energy standards that required utility companies in Ohio to use renewable energy and include energy efficiency.

Republican Senate President Keith Faber of Celina says the standards that were created in 2008 are unreasonable and arbitrary. Faber says the Senate will likely try to change the standards but the exact plan is still up in the air.

“I think we need to continue the freeze. The question is for how long, and what does that mean? I think that’s going to be where our discussion is going to be and where we land is still an open question.”

Lawmakers land in several places on the issue. Some want a complete repeal of the standards and to let utility companies decide on their own whether green energy is a good investment. Some want to bring the standards back with changes and others, like Faber, want to continue the freeze.

Gov. John Kasich has said in the past that an indefinite freeze would be “unacceptable.”

He recently told a group of students at the University of Texas at Austin that he has already sent a strong message to lawmakers.

“I’ve told the legislature the standards that were set were unrealistic but if you try and kill the standards whether it has to do with the renewables or whether it has to do with the issue of saving energy I’ll veto the bill and go to the higher standards.”

Pro-green energy groups say the standards create a better energy investment in resources like wind and solar power that will eventually lead to lower electric bills. But critics have said they're too costly.

The current freeze was set up to be temporary, so if the House and Senate do nothing with it during the lame duck session, then the standards come back at the beginning of 2017.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.