Bill headed to Ohio Gov. Kasich for his expected signature; Michigan mandate still in effect
Legislation that would unplug Ohio's in-state renewable energy mandate and require a re-evaluation of the entire law is headed to Gov. John Kasich.
And it appears that Gov. Kasich plans to sign the bill.
The issue could be significant for the region because Michigan also has an in-state renewable energy mandate that outlaws it from being able to buy renewable energy from surrounding states, which could lower costs for Michigan taxpayers.
Renewable energy in Ohio and Michigan mostly refers to electricity produced by wind turbines. Ending Ohio's in-state mandate would allow the state's utilities to shop for cheaper wind-produced energy from states that produce more wind, such as Minnesota and Iowa. That, in turn, would force wind energy producers in Ohio to compete or find other markets.
On Wednesday, the Ohio House passed Senate Bill 310 on a 53-38 vote. The Ohio Senate followed up by agreeing to some minor changes to the legislation made by the House and then sent Senate Bill 310 to Gov. Kasich's office.
After passage of the bill, a spokesman for Gov. Kasich characterized the legislation in positive terms as a compromise between those who want to eliminate the energy rules and those who want no change.
In addition to ending the in-state mandate, Senate Bill 310, would freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards in place for two years. That's the aspect of the bill that is receiving the lion's share of news coverage in Ohio.
"The freezing of Ohio's renewable energy mandates sets an important precedent for Michigan legislators and Gov. Rick Snyder," said Kevon Martis, director of the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, a non-profit organization that is concerned about the construction of wind turbines in the region. "Even in the windiest states, wind typically arrives at times of lowest demand for electricity which sharply diminishes its value. The Brookings Institution's latest study demonstrates with certainty that wind and solar are among the most expensive and least effective means of reducing power plant emissions, bar none.
"But in states like Ohio and Michigan, wind energy's pronounced failings are amplified by an anemic wind resource," Martis continued. "Gov. Kasich showed tremendous courage in staring down the same environmental juggernaut that stands in the way of sound energy policy in Michigan. ...It is clearly time for Michigan to take the baton from Gov. Kasich and dump renewable energy mandates and simply set a policy that rewards cost effective clean energy from any source."
Tom Stacy, a self-described, "Ohioan for Affordable Electricity," said he would remain guardedly optimistic until he knows for sure that the bill has received the governor's signature. He said he has high hopes for what the bill might accomplish.
"This is a win for ratepayers, Ohio's economy and even the environment," Stacy said of the bill's passage by the Ohio general assembly. "This bill has the potential to raise political and public awareness of not just electricity choices, but the very closely related choices between socialism and capitalism. What we need is an 'all of the competitive' energy policy, and Ohio has taken a small step in that direction through the passage of SB 310.
"It would be really meaningful for the study committee (which would re-evaluate the state's renewable energy mandates) to propose an end goal measured in PPM (parts per million) and cents per KWh (Kilowatt hour) instead of just mandating large percentages of somebody's favorite technology and then taking their word that it will magically cure all ills."
The Ohio Environmental Council, which supports the mandates, was not pleased with the news that Gov. Kasich might sign the bill.
"Contrary to the reassuring tone of yesterday's statement by the governor's office, the final bill as approved by the General Assembly did not land 'at the right spot' for Ohio and does anything but assure that Ohio will 'move forward in a balanced way,' " the group said in a statement. "Rather, Gov. Kasich's anticipated approval of this recklessly imbalanced legislation will not simply 'freeze' but all but annihilate clean energy standards."