Created on Sunday, 15 June 2014 Written by JULIE CARR SMYTH, AP Statehouse Correspondent
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican Gov. John Kasich's signature on a bill delaying the phase-in of Ohio's renewable energy and efficiency targets and repealing advanced energy mandates is drawing a mixed reaction.
Kasich signed the bill without comment Friday. Advanced-energy businesses, environmentalists, civil rights advocates and faith leaders had opposed the bill, with many calling for a veto.
Steve Frenkel, the Union of Concerned Scientists' director in the Midwest, said it was fitting the signing came on Friday the 13th. He called the bill frighteningly risky.
He predicted it would "increase costs for consumers, increase air pollution from the state's power sector and hurt Ohio's ability to meet new EPA carbon pollution standards."
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce and other influential business groups, utilities and industrial electricity users favored the signing.
Doug Colafella, a spokesman for Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp., told The Blade newspaper of Toledo that the predicted price increases from the freeze are hypothetical. He said the utility had calculated that energy efficiency mandates, if left unchecked, would gradually push up average electric bills from $54 to $241.
The new law puts a two-year hold on renewables targets in a compromise Kasich backed to avoid a full repeal being pushed in the state Senate. The thresholds would resume in 2017 if the state Legislature fails to act.
The law also creates a study panel of lawmakers to review the impacts of Ohio's clean energy standard. The legislation says it's the intent of the Legislature to ultimately reduce existing renewable energy thresholds, which could include a full repeal.
The 2008 law, enacted under Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, required energy companies to sell a combined 25 percent of their electricity produced from renewable and advanced sources by 2025. Strickland, of Ohio's coal-rich Appalachian region, included clean coal among acceptable advanced sources, along with co-generation and advanced nuclear power.