The Ohio Energy Study Committee met again this week to hear from the PUCO and the Ohio EPA on how the proposed federal Clean Power Plan will impact Ohio’s renewable and energy efficiency mandates. In the testimony of PUCO Vice Chairman Asim Haque and EPA Director Craig Butler, essentially, the points made were that the impacts of the mandates are not known but should Ohio continue to have mandates, the federal EPA could claim future enforcement authority. Moreover, the financial costs are unknown especially because the future availability of federal tax credits is unknown. Ohio and 8 other states are challenging the federal Clean Power Plan in court.
According to one news report, “OEPA has identified a number of practical problems with the rules, [Butler] said, noting that they calculate reduction targets based on 2012 levels, rather than 2005. CO2 emissions from Ohio plants have already dropped 138 million tons over the past 10 years, he said, calling additional improvements “extremely unrealistic.” Sen. Seitz asked the director for legislative recommendations in case lawmakers decide to ignore the U.S. EPA’s carbon rules and “give them the single digit salute.” “I would prefer not to have some legislative handcuffs on us,” Director Butler replied, adding that he’d rather wait for more detail about what the federal default implementation plan will be. “Making a decision right now about whether we play the game or not play the game is, in my view, premature.”
The timing of the federal plan and the Ohio Mandate Study Committee are out of synch. The U.S. EPA will release final rules this summer; the Study Committee has a September deadline for mandate recommendations and a June 2016 deadline for state implementation. If OEPA obtains an extension for their federal plan proposal, Ohio could possibly have until early 2018 to develop a plan. Is it any coincidence that EverPower and others sought extensions of their wind developments until May 2018? Sen. Cliff Hite asked whether the Study Committee should push back its timeline but Chairman Balderson thinks they should try to meet their September 30, 2015 deadline.
The big news in Wisconsin is that Governor Scott Walker has proposed a $250,000 appropriation to study the health effects of wind turbines on nearby residents. The environmental left and the wind industry are up in arms about it and are making all kinds of allegations that this is a conspiracy of the fossil fuel industry. The article below from the liberal Huffington Post takes the side of the wind industry. One would think that big wind would welcome a study if they are so sure there is no impact….
“The request for a Wind Energy Health Issues Study was included with the intent to provide the Public Service Commission with comprehensive information to consider as they receive requests for future wind energy projects,” said Laurel Patrick, Walker’s press secretary, in a statement to The Huffington Post….