Legislative Republicans are close to proposing an extension of a freeze on state standards for energy efficiency and renewable energy, an idea that Gov. John Kasich has said he opposes.
Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, has been circulating a draft of a three-year extension of the freeze and could introduce it as a bill as soon as next week, according to lawmakers and lobbyists who are closely following it. The bill would seek to implement some of the recommendations of the Energy Mandates Study Committee, a joint House-Senate panel that issued a final report in September.
Seitz, a key player in passing the original freeze in 2014, was not available for comment on Wednesday.
Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, said he is generally supportive of extending the freeze, particularly while waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the Obama administration’s proposed regulations on carbon emissions.
The Sierra Club has reviewed the draft of the bill and says it is “unacceptable.”
“Other members of our legislature should not be aligning with this misguided piece of legislation, and it’s time for Gov. Kasich to take leadership in developing a reasonable clean-energy standard for our state,” said Samantha Allen, conservation program director for the environmental group.
Other groups also are gearing up fro a fight.
“The legislature has a clear choice,” said Ted Ford, president and CEO of Ohio Advanced Energy Economy. “It can create a business-friendly environment to attract investment in advanced energy or Ohio can keep the door shut on billions of dollars of benefits.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville, co-chairman of the study committee, says the panel’s recommendations should be debated.
“It’s something that needs to be done,” he said.
The two-year freeze took effect in 2014 and is about to conclude. It covers state rules that require utilities to meet annual benchmarks for investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The freeze was a compromise, as some majority Republicans lawmakers wanted to repeal the rules, arguing that the costs of compliance are greater than the benefits. Opponents said the rules are good for the environment and the economy.
At the time of the study committee report, Kasich’s office said the governor opposes an extension freeze, and Kasich has repeated that view while campaigning for president. Kasich spokesman Joe Andrews had no comment on Wednesday.
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