With most 2013 legislative sessions now adjourned or waning, Stateline — a nonpartisan, nonprofit news service of the Pew Charitable Trusts that provides daily reporting and analysis on trends in state policy — reports that "no state this year repealed its renewable energy requirement, lowered its percentage mandate or extended utilities’ deadlines for meeting it," despite strong efforts by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other groups to get such legislation passed.
Currently, mandates are in place for 29 states and the District of Columbia. In 2011 and 2012, 50 bills were proposed to weaken existing renewable energy laws. Only five succeeded, but "none dramatically changed the policy," the article said.
In February 2013, Ohio Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), chairman of the Senate Public Utilities Committee, introduced Senate Bill 58, a placeholder energy bill to "review and possibly modify the energy efficiency, peak demand reduction, and alternative energy resource provisions established by Ohio law governing competitive retail electric service," the bill stated. Ohio's existing energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards were passed in Senate Bill 221 in 2008 and were most recently amended in Senate Bill 315 in 2012. Hearings on the issue concluded in May. (For more information, see our May 7, 2013, blog post – "It may be months before revisions to Ohio's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws are proposed.")
These efforts have failed in part because some conservative legislators find themselves unable to deny the jobs and other economic benefits that the renewable energy industry has brought to their states. When attempts to repeal or roll back renewable energy mandates were introduced in Kansas, at least one conservative lawmaker expressed resentment about the push from outside interests. Kansas Representative Scott Schwab (R-Olathe) also dismissed claims that "the mandate had sent ratepayers' bills soaring," according to the Stateline article. His position is supported by data from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which recently stated, "Rate impacts vary from state to state but usually stayed below 5 percent in recent years."
In addition, because passage of the energy standards requires "cooperation from a broad array of interest groups," including environmentalists, manufacturers, farmers, utilities and more, few are eager to change the standards now that they are in place, the Stateline article stated. Major utilities in general "rarely push for repeals or the watering down mandates — even if they opposed the initial policy" because they "would rather not change course after shifting resources toward compliance," the article said. For more, read the full story.