Ohio Senate May Be Nearing Repeal of “Green” Energy Mandates

Ohio Senate Public Utilities committee
Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee

Ohio homeowners and energy experts provided input on Senate Bill 34 (SB 34), a proposed repeal of “green” electricity production mandates passed enthusiastically by Ohio Republican legislators several years ago, during a Senate hearing this week.

State Senator Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander)
Senator Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander)

Introduced by Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) early last year, SB 34 received its second consideration before the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee.

The bill, if enacted, would repeal the state’s Renewable and Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard (RAEPS), which requires “that electric distribution utilities and electric services companies provide 25% of their retail power supplies from advanced and renewable energy resources by 2025.”

During the hearing, Kevon Martis, director of the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition — a  bipartisan renewable-energy citizens advocacy group — garnered laughs from the committee by concluding that “mandating and subsidizing wind energy is like hiring one of my teenage sons to work in my construction business,” as “they have a highly inflated opinion of their relative contribution to the task at hand” but keep “you up all night with incessant and annoying noise that you are absolutely powerless to stop.”

Responding to questioning from Sen. Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) regarding the potential economic impact of ending renewable energy subsidies, Martis explained that “those industries need to mature,” as opposed to continuing to remain dependent on public funding.

Sen. John Eklund (R-Munson Township) also wondered aloud about the effect that removing government subsidies may have on the balance of green-energy technology research relative to private-sector research into other energy sources, comparing it to an inventor wondering why he’d want to “invent the telephone when one of these gizmos is just around the corner.”

Committee chairman Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) joked that the difference between renewable energy and other technological innovations was that other technologies were “not some Stalinist government mandating ‘you will buy my stuff.’”

In an interview with Media Trackers, Sen. Jordan expressed his belief that SB 34 was gaining traction in the legislature.

“My bill is much more simple, and it just lets customers pick the winners and losers in our economy, as opposed to a bunch of know-it-all politicians,” he said, adding, “You rip the Band-Aid off, you stop the problem, which is that these renewables necessarily drive the cost up for all consumers.”

Last year, Sen. Seitz told Media Trackers that he felt that Jordan’s bill went too far, explaining that it would be akin to “bringing down the house.”

At the time SB 34 was introduced, Seitz added that he was not necessarily opposed to repealing the mandates, “if it’s going to become significantly more costly for ‘Bob and Betty Buckeye’ to pay for the privilege of being green.”

After months of negotiations between Sen. Seitz and environmentalist groups over reforming the RAEPS mandate finally broke down in December, Seitz announced that he would instead pursue the repeal of “the current envirosocialist mandates,” noting that the “inordinate difficulty” of finding points of compromise with environmentalist organizations forced him to opt instead to “simply end the mandates now.”

In 2008, RAEPS was enacted in Senate Bill 221 (SB 221) with strong Republican support. Secretary of State Jon Husted (R), then the speaker of the Ohio House, echoed Democrat Governor Ted Strickland’s rhetoric by promising the mandate would foster a “green-collar economy,” creating jobs by getting “the people who need to invest excited enough about Ohio to come here.”

series of high-profile green-energy failures — including at companies boosted with taxpayer money by the Strickland Administration — prompted some legislators to question whether promises of job creation and cheaper electricity were merely hot air.

Despite promises to the contrary, data collected by the United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows that residential electricity generation costs have increased by 35.8 percent since the enactment of SB 221.

According to statements made during the committee hearing, SB 34 will receive at least two more hearings before a committee vote will be taken.