Ohio legislature passes bill to freeze, alter state RPS

By Erin Voegele | May 29, 2014

The Ohio legislature has passed a bill that could freeze the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for two years. The bill, S.B. 310, also aims to add a provision to state law that requires the public utilities commission to adopt rules governing the disclosure of the cost of renewable energy resources, energy efficiency savings and peak demand reduction requirements to consumers. A recent statement made by the governor suggests he is likely to sign the legislation.

Ohio first enacted its RPS in 2008. The standard required 0.25 percent renewable energy in 2009, ramping up to 12.5 percent in 2024 and following years. The RPS also includes specific requirements for solar energy.

The RPS requirement for this year is 2.5 percent. S.B. 310 would keep that requirement in place for two additional years, increasing the requirement to 3.5 percent in 2017, 4.5 percent in 2018, 5.5 percent in 2019, 6.5 percent in 2020, 7.5 percent in 2021, 8.5 percent in 2022, 9.5 percent in 2023, 11.5 percent in 2025 and 12.5 percent in 2026 and later years.

Responding to the vote, Ted Ford, president and CEO of Ohio Advanced energy Economy, said, “Ohio is poised to become the first state in the nation to move backwards on renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. This despite the fact that data from public filings of utility companies themselves show that these standards are saving money for customers. If signed into law, Senate Bill 310 will have a devastating effect on the state’s growing clean energy industry.  It puts in jeopardy hundreds of millions of investment dollars, tens of thousands of jobs, and will negatively impact the economy for years to come.”

In a statement posted to the Ohio Senate Majority Caucus Blog earlier this month, Gov. John Kasich and Keith Faber, president of the state Senate, said the “well-intentioned strategy developed in 2008 to encourage alternative energy generation mandated levels which are now emerging as a challenge to job creation and Ohio’s economic recovery.”  The statement goes on to say that the RPS goals are unrealistic and will drive up energy costs for job creators and consumers. The two note, however, that alternative energy sources are important to the state’s energy portfolio. For that reason, Kasich and Faber said they’ve rejected the notion of scrapping Ohio’s renewable standard. “Instead, by temporarily holding at our current level while problems are ironed out, we keep the progress we've made, ensure we steadily grow new energy sources and preserve affordable energy prices for both businesses and consumers,” they continued.

While Kasich and Faber are calling for the RPS to be frozen for two years, a recent poll released by the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy indicates that Ohio voters are firmly committed to maintaining the state’s current energy standards. “Nearly 75 percent of voters support the state’s clean energy law requiring major electric utilities to increase their use of renewable energy, and 86 percent register their support for the current energy efficiency law,” said the group in a statement.

Ford testified against S.B. 310 during a hearing held by the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee on May 20. “This is one of the most anti-consumer and anti-business bills you are likely to see in your time as a legislator,” he said in his written testimony.

He pointed to the positive business impacts of renewable energy in Ohio, noting the state’s energy standards have created a new, fast growing industry. “Some 400 companies employing 25,000 Ohioans are currently providing energy efficiency and renewable energy products and services in Ohio,” he said. “The U.S. advanced energy market is growing at double –digit rates and totaled $169 billion in 2013.”

A full copy of the bill is available here. 310 is available on the Ohio General Assembly website