Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) on Monday introduced his much-awaited bill to extend the ongoing renewable energy mandates freeze by three years.
In its major components, the bill (SB 320) is much the same as a draft circulated by Sen. Seitz last week to gauge stakeholder input.
It maintains the draft’s 2019 end date for the freeze, while eliminating compliance measurements for the years 2021-22, 2023-24, and 2026-27.
It also keeps intact draft language prohibiting any state agency from issuing certain guidelines on carbon dioxide emissions, electric dispatch protocols, natural gas utilization, or regulating the acquisition of renewable energy and more “without new and specific state statutory authority to do so.”
Several interested parties on both sides of the issue said Monday they had not yet had time to examine the final bill, which was introduced late in the afternoon. But in addition to continuing the freeze, opponents have expressed concerns the draft version would water down the definition of energy efficiency and remove flexibility from the state’s response to the Clean Power Plan.
The bill as introduced would expand the definition of energy efficiency to include post-consumer recycled glass by mercantile customers, consumer reductions in water usage, and improvements in wastewater treatment. It would also expand the consumer base eligible for opting out of energy efficiency programs.
Whether Gov. John Kasich would sign such a bill remains to be seen. The governor last year blasted the Energy Mandates Study Committee’s recommendation to continue the freeze.
Governor’s office spokesman Joe Andrews declined to comment in detail on the introduced bill, which he said could change by the time it hits the governor’s desk.
But Mr. Andrews said the governor has been clear on his opinion on continuing the freeze. Gov. Kasich previously called the idea of an indefinite continuation “unacceptable.”
When it comes to the idea of a three year extension, Mr. Andrews said the governor’s reaction will be much the same.
“It’s still kicking the can down the road,” Mr. Andrews said.
At an April 19 campaign stop in Maryland, Gov. Kasich said he has “leverage” over lawmakers in the discussion, according to video from CSPN.
“They’re going to have to come with a commonsense plan because if they try to kill it we’ll go back to the unattainable level that was set,” Gov. Kasich said. “That’s called leverage. I have leverage.”
He urged promoting efficiency and renewables, while criticizing politicians for setting the standard “at a level we can’t meet.”
“So we want to have energy,” he said. “The problem was the legislature got carried away at one point and our standards were 20 or 25% and they wanted to get rid of it. I said no, we’re not going to do it. We’ll reset it to fit the economy of Ohio.