A legislative energy study committee released a report last Wednesday advising Ohio legislators to halt any renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates indefinitely.
The publishing of the report was met with widespread criticism.
“A continued freeze of Ohio’s energy standards is unacceptable, and we stand willing to work with the Ohio General Assembly to craft a bill that supports a diverse mix of reliable, low-cost energy sources while preserving the gains we have made in the state’s economy,” said Joe Andrews, a spokesman for Gov. John Kasich.
Kasich’s stance on energy efficiency has been moderate in the past, but he has helped to prevent Ohio from completely dismantling energy-efficiency standards, Managing Director of Energy & Clean Air Programs at the Ohio Environmental Council Trish Demeter said.
His statement on the freeze could potentially affect how members of the General Assembly assess the recommendations.
“I think the big wrinkle for the senators and representatives on the committee was that the governor came out and said that the indefinite freeze was unacceptable,” Demeter said. “I think that will put the brakes on any legislation.”
The Energy Mandates Study committee came to the conclusion of halting the mandates after deciding that the Clean Power Plan (CPP), announced by President Obama this past August, has not provided enough information to constitute any compliance with the plan.
According to the report, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has yet to answer all questions about the CPP and has failed to resolve pending lawsuits on the rule.
Aside from extending the freeze indefinitely, the committee provided three more recommendations for legislators. They recommended having a quicker process for reviewing new utility plans for energy efficiency, investigating and continuing current Ohio energy initiatives, and switching from energy mandates to energy incentives.
Despite the report advising against an increase in energy efficiency, Demeter is not discouraged about Ohio’s future in energy efficiency.
“[Kasich’s] comments make it seem as though there will be a much more tempered conversation with the legislature,” Demeter said. “So we’re hoping that we actually have a fair and open process and we might actually see some things done. We’re cautiously optimistic.”
There is no timetable for when legislation based on the report will be enacted. It is up to the Ohio General Assembly to adopt all, some or none of the recommendations put forth by the committee.
“Poll after poll that we’ve seen shows that public opinion on renewable energy and energy efficiency is always overwhelmingly in the majority,” Demeter said. “It crosses political lines. Democrats and Republicans think that it’s just common sense to invest in cleaner resources, encourage innovation, and get on track with the clean energy era.”