Ohio passes renewable electricity bill

By Timothy Charles Holmseth
On May 1, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland signed into law renewable energy legislation that will apply strong usage and efficiency standards by 2009.

The advanced energy portfolio in Senate Bill 221 will require by 2025 that 25 percent of electricity sold by Ohio's electric distribution utilities or electric service companies be from alternative energy sources, said Anne Goodge of the Ohio Biomass Energy Program. "Half of the renewable energy sources facilities' must be located in Ohio with [the] remainder deliverable," she said. In addition to biomass, other sources of renewable energy under this new legislation include solar power, clean coal, nuclear power, fuel cells, cogeneration

and solid waste.
The staff of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is currently drafting rules for the alternative energy resource requirements, which will be published and followed by public comment, Goodge explained. There will be annual benchmarks through 2025 to assure compliance, she said. "Utilities are subject to penalties for noncompliance," she added. A
utility may purchase renewable energy credits to meet the standard, if necessary.

The legislation states that to further advance the modernization of alternative energy infrastructure, market access for cost-effective supply will be created, demand-side management will be implemented, time-differentiated pricing will be prepared and advanced metering will be employed.

Before signing the legislation, Strickland said the new law and standards reflect a commitment he made publicly to the Toledo Chamber of Commerce one year ago. At that time, the focus was on transparency and accountability, equal footing for customers with the utilities, energy efficiency, a strong advanced energy portfolio, modernization of the electrical infrastructure, a need for greenhouse gas emissions, and balance between the protection of regulations and the opportunities of competitive markets.

"The commission is working on the draft rules for public comment [to be finalized] as soon as possible," Goodge said. "I would estimate that it will be several months at least before they are issued."