Now that Sub. S.B. 58 is on indefinite hiatus, attention is turning toward Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) – the driving force behind the bill – and his new strategy to weaken the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy standards. Although the senator said that the cancellation of the vote on Wednesday occurred only because there were too many revisions and amendments added to the bill for the House to consider before the end of the year, he outlined a three-pronged strategy to "reform current 'envirosocialist' mandates that have afflicted Ohio ratepayers through hidden charges and fees on their electric bills," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report.
In addition to continuing to "work with parties who have acted honestly and in good faith to find compromise that will facilitate passage of S.B. 58," Seitz said the Senate Public Utilities Committee, which he chairs, will commence extensive hearings on S.B. 34 – Sen. Kris Jordan's (R-Ostrander) proposal to completely repeal the requirement that electric distribution utilities and electric services companies provide 25 percent of their retail power supplies from advanced and renewable energy resources by 2025. Jordan delivered sponsor testimony of S.B. 34, which was first introduced in February, during the Sub. S.B. 58 hearings held on Wednesday, October 9th. Seitz said many in the House pressured him to "simply end the mandates now" since "an orderly transition from the current central government planning model to free markets" proved inordinately difficult, the article said.
Finally, Seitz plans to challenge in court the mandate that 12.5 percent of the renewable energy requirement comes from in-state sources, which he has long described as unconstitutional (See our Nov 26, 2013, blog post for more information). The senator said that "California, Massachusetts and Minnesota have abandoned their in-state mandates in recognition of the constitutional problem," with lawsuits challenging similar requirements currently pending in Colorado and North Dakota. In particular, Seitz is relying on a federal circuit court of appeals opinion delivered in June that said Michigan's in-state mandate "faced an insurmountable obstacle under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution," the article said.In the case, Illinois Commerce Commission v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 11-3421, et al. (7th Cir. June 7, 2013), attorneys for the State of Michigan, DTE Energy and Consumer Energy were originally trying to be exempt from "paying a share of the cost of the transmission facilities" due to the state's in-state renewable energy production mandate, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential. Based on their argument, Judge Richard Posner wrote, "Michigan cannot, without violating the commerce clause of Article I of the Constitution, discriminate against out-of-state renewable energy." Since the state's renewable energy requirements were not the matter put before the court, the judge's dicta opinion stands as editorializing and "does not overturn any part of the Michigan law." Regardless, his statement "could lead to challenges of similar requirements that artificially favor in-state renewable energy producers in other states as well," the article said. For more, read the full story.