Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed legislation Friday afternoon that will freeze his state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards at their current levels for two years, legislation that makes his state the first in the nation to roll back its renewable energy standard.
Kasich signed Senate Bill 310 after months of heated debate over the bill, which was backed by some of Ohio’s manufacturers but opposed by others, including Honda and Whirlpool. The measure will freeze the state’s renewable energy standard and energy efficiency program at 2014 levels for two years, during which time a committee will study how the standard impacts the state and whether or not further changes should be made. Currently, Ohio’s RES stipulates that the state’s utilities must get 12.5 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025.
Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, now President of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, signed Ohio’s RES into law after it passed the House and Senate almost unanimously in 2008. He told ThinkProgress in May that he doesn’t agree with the push to freeze the RES.
“Let me be clear, this vote does not represent a compromise, it represents a giveaway to utility companies and the end of Ohio’s leadership in the renewable energy industries,” Strickland said. “When I signed SB 221 into law it put consumers on a level playing field with the utility companies. It was legislation developed over months of bipartisan discussions about how to create jobs in an emerging industry and position Ohio as a national leader in the production of renewable energy. It has been working — jobs are being created, investments are being made, and rate-payers are saving money.”
Ohio groups rallied against S.B. 310 in the months leading up to its signature. In May, Ohio faith leaders called on the governor to veto the bill, citing their concern that a weakened RES could harm God’s creation. Ohio residents also supported the state’s standards: A poll released last month by the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy found 72 percent of respondents were in favor of the renewable energy standards.
According to a report by the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, the standards also led to significant savings for Ohioans. From 2009 to 2013, the RES saved Ohio residents $1.03 billion and cost $456 million, according to the report. The group also noted that many Ohio utilities praised the standards for their savings and job-creating potential. American Electric Power Ohio, for instance, said energy efficiency programs have been “an important resource for the state of Ohio, AEP Ohio, and its customers, continuing to be important as future fuel and commodity prices remain volatile and environmental regulations become more stringent.”