Business group opposes bill rolling back renewable-energy rules

By

October 11, 2013

The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association is urging state lawmakers to reject a plan that would overhaul rules for energy efficiency and renewable energy.

This move, announced yesterday, adds a well-known business group to the proposal’s opponents, joining a host of environmental advocates and “green” energy trade groups.

“S.B. 58 represents an extensive rewrite of state energy policy that will have the effect of increasing electricity costs for Ohio manufacturers while overcompensating utilities, now and into the future,” Eric Burkland, the association’s president, said in a statement.

“In its current form, the bill contains too many unjustified benefits for utilities and insufficient protections for manufacturers for whom energy costs are a major competitiveness issue."

The group’s stance is not a surprise. It has long been skeptical of attempts to change the rules that were put in place by a 2008 state energy law, many of which provide manufacturers with opportunities to save money.

What remains to be seen is how much effort the association will put into fighting the measure. Ryan Augsburger, managing director of public policy for the group, said the issue will be a priority. He also expects other prominent groups to join the OMA in opposing the bill.

“It’s a complex piece of legislation,” he said. “We believe as others conduct their reviews and examine its impact, they may join a chorus of concerned parties.”

Several business groups support the bill. They include the Ohio Energy Group and the Industrial Energy Users-Ohio, both of which represent some of the state’s largest electricity users.

Sam Randazzo, attorney for the Industrial Energy Users, said he expects “broad and deep” support for the bill from a majority of the business community. “When you explain the bill to people, they begin to see the common sense in the bill.”

The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, creates a series of exceptions to the 2008 law and removes a requirement that utilities purchase half of their renewable energy from in-state sources.

Burkland said in his statement that his association is committed to working with the General Assembly to “identify viable solutions to ensure appropriate financial protection for Ohio manufacturers while preserving and improving an energy policy environment in Ohio that assures long-term affordability of and accessibility to energy resources.”

dgearino@dispatch.com

@dispatchenergy