COLUMBUS: Ohio’s alternative energy targets would be put on hold for two years as a legislative panel studies their impact under a compromise accepted Wednesday on a closely watched Senate bill.
The mandates for state utilities to use energy sources including solar, wind and biofuels have been hotly debated since Ohio put them in place in 2008. Legislation revising the standards appears poised to move quickly through the Statehouse this week.
Proponents say such targets promote environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fuels and create high-tech jobs in the growing alternative-energy sector. Opponents contend they drive up prices for average electric consumers who have been given little choice in the matter.
Responding to broad criticism, including from the Kasich administration, the Senate Public Utilities Committee said Wednesday it was again backing off efforts to effectively repeal the mandates through a permanent moratorium. Various earlier attempts have also failed.
The compromise bill would allow the phase-in of the standards to continue as planned if lawmakers don’t act on the 12-member study panel’s recommendations at the end of two years. The panel would include six representatives and six senators, up to four from each chamber of a single political party.
Current law requires utilities to produce 12.5 percent of energy from renewable sources and 12.5 percent from advanced sources by 2025. The rewrite says the phase-in would conclude in 2027 to allow for the two-year hiatus.
The amended bill removes a requirement that half of renewable energy resources come from in-state facilities and requires utilities to disclose alternative energy costs to customers. Those customers could opt out of higher-cost alternative energy if it amounts to 3 percent or more of their bills.