Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said yesterday that the final hearing and vote on Sub. S.B. 58, the highly contentious effort to scale back Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws, was not canceled last Wednesday due to political pressure, but to allow the legislature time to make sure that the legislation is drafted exactly as intended, The Plain Dealer reports (See our Nov 14, 2013, blog post for more information). As a result, "the bill will not show up in the utilities committee until Dec. 4 at the earliest," meaning Seitz's previously stated goal to "get the legislation through the Senate before the end of the year" is unlikely to be met. Although the bill might not be available until then, Seitz did outline the main points of what he considers a reasonable compromise:
- The requirement that 12.5 percent of the power that utilities sell in the state must be produced from renewable sources by 2025 would remain completely intact; however, the requirement that Ohio-based wind farms supply half of the state's renewable power by 2025, which Seitz considers unconstitutional, would only remain in place until 2016. After that date, "power from Ohio wind farms get a slight preference under Ohio's Buy Ohio law, in which Ohio products are chosen over out-of-state if they are no more than five percent more costly."
- In an effort to allow out-of-state wind energy that is "actually 'deliverable,'" the final legislation is expected to delete language allowing allowing Ohio utilities to fulfill renewable energy requirements by purchasing Canadian hydropower, and replace it with language allowing utilities to "purchase wind power from anywhere within the power grid managed by Philadelphia-based PJM Interconnection."
- The amount of bonuses that utilities can reward to themselves for meeting energy efficiency requirements and assisting customers with energy efficiency measures would be capped at this year's rate, a step back from the original substitute bill, which would have allowed utilities to pay themselves "a bonus of up to 33 percent of the value of the efficiency upgrades" they helped customers put in place.
- What utilities are allowed to count toward their energy efficiency requirements would be expanded to include "improvements in efficiency they made to their distribution lines... and to their power plants."
- Major power users would be able to opt out of the energy efficiency requirements so that they "don't have to pay the rate increases the utilities charge customers to pay for such programs." Also, the amount utilities can spend on these programs would be capped at this year's rate, and possibly "spread further to include smaller companies" to compensate for the money lost from excluding the larger power consumers.
- "The solar 'cut-out' for renewable energy, 0.5 percent of all power sold," would remain in place.
- The way industrial power use is calculated would be altered, and their consumption would not count toward the state's total consumption rate. As a result, this "would make it easier for the electric utilities to reduce total consumption of power by 22 percent by 2025."
For more, read the full story.