State Senator William Seitz (R-Cincinnati), chair of the Senate Public Utilities Committee, recently announced his intent to place on the committee’s agenda a comprehensive review of Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards (RPS). In a memorandum dated February 1, 2013, Sen. Seitz informed all interested parties that he will introduce placeholder legislation in order to begin the review. Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards were passed in Senate Bill 221 in 2008 and, most recently, were amended in Senate Bill 315 last year. Chart on the current SB 221 and SB 315 Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard.
Senator Seitz indicated that the review will encompass a number of “sub-issues” related to the energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards. A portion of the potential sub-issues for review identified in the memo involve the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s (PUCO) oversight of the standards. For example, the memo asks whether the PUCO is properly interpreting the “3% cost cap” contained in the RPS. Another sub-issue asks whether the PUCO is correctly upholding the intent of Senate Bill 221 with regards to the extent that compliance costs are bypassable or non-bypassable for utility companies. Another sub-issue asks whether there are adequate processes in place to determine whether utilities are being prudent in their purchases to meet the mandates.
Additional sub-issues for potential review relate to fundamental components of the energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards. For example, one topic for review is whether the annual targets for energy efficiency should remain at their current levels. Further, whether the renewable portfolio standards should continue to have a specific mandate for solar power may also be reviewed. Finally, the memo asks whether the current standards should be abolished and if so, what steps should be taken to ensure the validity of current contracts.
Senator Seitz is also accepting additional suggestions of sub-issues for the committee to review. After the questions are established, hearings are expected to begin where witnesses will be able to testify on any and all of the issues identified. At the conclusion of the hearings, the chairman and the committee will decide what, if any, legislative changes may be warranted to state law.