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Vote Could Come Today on Ohio's Clean-Energy Freeze

The Ohio Senate could vote as early as Thursday on a bill making the state's clean-energy standards optional for the next three years. (Alexander Smith/Wikimedia)
The Ohio Senate could vote as early as Thursday on a bill making the state's clean-energy standards optional for the next three years. (Alexander Smith/Wikimedia)
December 8, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio – It doesn't make sense for business, employment or the climate - that's what opponents are saying about a measure under consideration by the Ohio Senate.

House Bill 554 would make Ohio's renewable energy and energy-efficiency standards optional for the next three years, essentially extending the freeze enacted on the measures in 2014.

That's a step backward, said Kristen Kubitza, conservation program coordinator with the Ohio Sierra Club. She said the standards were tremendously successful when they were in effect.

"They reduced 2.2 million tons of air pollution in just two years, they saved consumers $1 billion on their electric bills annually, and they created thousands of jobs and grew the Ohio economy by $160 million GDP annually,” Kubitza said.

Proponents of the bill argue that the standards are costly for utilities, which will lead to higher electric bills for consumers.

According to Michael Bevis, professor of Geodynamics at Ohio State University, renewable energy policies are essential to reducing carbon emissions that contribute to global warming. His research on the impacts of climate change have revealed dramatic ice loss in Greenland. He said Ohio is experiencing milder winters and changing growing seasons, and he warned that climate warming can escalate other environmental problems.

"Agricultural runoff causes algae blooms, for example, and then when it's warmer, that gets worse," Bevis explained. "So, you can have a preexisting problem, like algae growth, and it's getting exacerbated by global warming."

He added that clean energy technologies also are important for business and jobs, saying solar and wind capacity are expanding rapidly and will only become cheaper to produce.

"By suppressing these renewable energy technologies, all you're doing is disconnecting yourself from a technology that is going to win," Bevis said. "And the countries and states that detach themselves from that are doing themselves an enormous disservice."

Gov. John Kasich, who approved the initial freeze, has said he would veto any extension, but has not commented on the optional rules. The Senate could vote on the bill as early as Thursday.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH