Ohio plan to thaw clean-energy freeze makes compliance optional

As we have reported, the renewable energy mandate freeze will expire on December 31, 2016 unless legislation is passed to extend the freeze or to eliminate mandates entirely. The lobbying on both sides is intensifying and this issue of Wind News focuses on impending battle. The first salvos are polls and industry-sponsored research designed to advance the cause of one side or another. These polls are accompanied by newspaper stories, whining from the environmental community and words of caution from the business sector.

Following one news story about a poll claiming that everyone and their brother including Republicans and people of faith want renewable energy, the comment below was posted. We thought it was worth repeating because lost in all the hubbub about mandates is the FACT that TODAY any customer is free to choose whatever type of generation they want, including wind and solar. The issue is why MANDATES should be required for everyone.

Comment from Utility Whisperer :

Well, the results of opinion polls which are issued without identifying the questions that were used or the demographic information for the sample population are as useless as a reserved seat at a Browns’ playoff game. But, for all you Republicans or Democrats who may really want “renewables”, I have some good news. In Ohio, customers of investor owned utilities like CEI (not CPP) have the right to pick their electricity generation supplier and can buy as much “renewable” stuff as they are willing to pay for. Utility customers in Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and many other states have no such right. The question here is not whether people can act on their preference for “renewable energy” but whether people who have other preferences (like reliable service at reasonable prices) should be, nonetheless, forced, by an Ohio mandate, to send their money to some wind farm developer. Since when does a real “conservative” favor consumption compelled by government?

Our friend, Senator Bill Seitz has proposed a compromise bill that would remove mandates and include “goals” for the next three years. Annual renewable “benchmarks” would be replaced with three year targets but there would be no penalty for not meeting the target until the year 2021 after the “mandates” resume in 2020. We understand that the definition of “renewable energy” would also be expanded to include combined heat and power and perhaps other clean generation sources.

We are amused by the complaint from the advocates for wind and solar that the legislation has no “teeth,” we invite them to look at the siting rules which are toothless as well. Can’t have it both ways, fellas!…

A two-year freeze of Ohio’s clean-energy standards is about to expire, and Republicans in the Ohio General Assembly have a new proposal that would technically put those standards back in place from 2017 through 2019 — but would make compliance optional.

Clean-energy rules, which have been law since 2008, say that electricity utilities must meet annual targets for renewable energy or else face penalties. They were frozen in 2014 at the behest of businesses that said the rules were too costly.

“There is no more freeze,” said Sen. Bill Seitz, R- Cincinnati, the chief sponsor of the new plan, which will soon be introduced as an amendment to Senate Bill 320, a measure he brought forward in April.

Opponents, which include the businesses involved with wind and solar energy, say the proposal is bad for the state’s environment and economy.

“Our take is that it is more of the same from Sen. Seitz — a three-year extension of the freeze, another attempt to stall progress on energy in Ohio,” said Ted Ford, president and CEO of Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, a trade group.

With this version, Seitz has deleted several controversial elements, such as rules for the way utilities treat rooftop solar arrays. His goal is to pass a bill by the end of the year, which is when the freeze would otherwise be lifted under current law.

“Obviously we’re working against the clock,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons we shortened and simplified this.”

He also made a subtle change to the main part of the bill. Previously, the measure would have extended the freeze until 2020, and then resumed the annual benchmarks.

In this new version, the annual standards are only required to be met every three years, in 2020, 2023 and 2026. Seitz said this will give utilities more flexibility and also will allow for time to see whether the federal Clean Power Plan survives court challenges….

Source: Plan to thaw clean-energy freeze makes compliance optional