Two weeks after the Ohio legislature approved S.B.310, Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, has signed it into law. The measure not only freezes Ohio's 25% by 2025 Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) for two years, but it makes Ohio the first U.S. state to roll back its renewable energy mandate.
The bill halts Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency programs for at least two years, in addition to permanently gutting key provisions of the law that have led to its success.
Not surprisingly, the move disappointed renewable energy and environmental advocates.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) says Kasich's action will have a chilling effect on renewable energy development. It may encourage developers and manufacturers to move to neighboring states with similar resources and friendlier business climates.
‘Ohio's clean energy law has worked for five years to encourage the development of clean, renewable energy in Ohio. After starting from almost nothing, we're now generating enough renewable energy to power over 100,000 homes and have saved Ohioans over a billion dollars on their electric bills through energy efficiency programs,’ says Christian Adams, state associate at Environment Ohio.
‘That's why it is incredibly disappointing to see this action from Gov. Kasich, who has professed support for renewable energy since his energy summit in 2010. But actions speak louder than words, and at the end of the day, he sided with polluting industries rather than a commitment to cleaner air and a clean energy future for Ohio.’
As if the AEPS weren't enough of a blow, the wind industry is urging Kasich to use his line-item veto to strike down burdensome setback standards.
Ohio already requires wind turbines to be located at least 1,300 feet from the nearest inhabited residences – among the most restrictive policies in America, notes AWEA.
H.B.483, the setback provision in the budget bill, would dramatically increase that requirement to apply to a turbine's distance from the nearest property line, not just the nearest home.
‘The U.S. wind industry is disappointed in Friday's news but hopeful that Gov. Kasich will demonstrate his commitment to an 'all of the above' energy strategy by encouraging legislative leaders to restart and strengthen the state's commitment to renewable energy through the S.B.310 study process,’ says Rob Gramlich, AWEA's senior vice president of public policy. ‘Meanwhile, the governor has stated his interest in having renewable energy as part of the state's energy mix. If wind is to be part of that mix, he must use his line-item veto power on Monday to remove the punitive setback requirement in the budget bill.’
According to AWEA, Kasich could act on the setback provision as early as June 16.
More coverage of the Ohio RPS freeze is available in NAW's June 2014 issue, which can be viewed here.