Years of Living Dangerously

Ohio energy efficiency policies face setback

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 

On May 28, 2014, ALEC and Heartland’s James Taylor scored a victory when Ohio became the first state to pass a bill dismantling its renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. 

The bill, SB 301, a watered-down version of Taylor’s and ALEC’s Electricity Freedom Act, freezes the state’s clean energy mandate at its current levels for two years to allow the standards to be “studied” by a special committee. The bill guts the requirement that Ohio utilities provide 12.5 percent of their electricity from renewables and 22 percent in savings from energy efficiency projects by 2025 — effectively repealing the next 11 years’ worth of increases. 

The bill passed both houses of the state legislature primarily among party lines, and Gov. John Kasich has said that he will sign the bill into law.

Key Ohio legislators working to cut back or shut down the state’s clean energy provisions have deep ties to ALEC. The lead sponsor of SB 301, Sen. William Seitz, who heads the Senate Public Utilities Committee, is an ALEC board member. According to ALEC Exposed, Sen. Troy Balderson, the bill’s author, was a member of ALEC’s Energy, Environment and Agriculture task force in 2011. Senate President Keith Faber and Speaker of the House William G. Batchelder are ALEC members. Gov. Kasich has documented ties to ALEC. As of January 2012, ALEC members accounted for approximately 43 percent of the Ohio legislature, according to People for the American Way. 

Taylor testified before the Ohio Public Senate Utilities Committee in March 2014. Fossil fuel interests lobbied heavily for the bill, including Ohio’s biggest utility, FirstEnergy.