COLUMBUS -- Gov. John Kasich has added his signature to much-debated legislation freezing renewable energy and efficiency mandates for two years, pending a review by a new study committee.
The move came behind closed doors and after numerous environmental and other groups sent letters to the governor urging him to veto the legislation.
Kasich offered no formal comment June 13 on his decision to sign the bill. His spokesman, Rob Nichols, said only that the governor supports the legislation.
Senate Bill 310 stemmed from law changes enacted about six years ago requiring power companies to generate a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources and to institute efficiency initiatives. Utilities are allowed to pass the costs of meeting the mandates onto their customers.
Among other provisions, SB 310 freezes renewable energy and efficiency benchmarks for the next two years and creates a study committee that will have to offer recommendations for future energy-related law changes by September 2015. Absent subsequent legislative action, the renewable energy and efficiency mandates in current law would restart in 2017.
Backers of the bill say existing standards are higher than those in place in other states and will lead to higher energy bills for businesses and consumers.
But opponents said the bill would reverse course on green energy advancements that are needed to protect the environment and hurt manufacturers of wind turbines and solar panels and other related green industries.
"We have an obligation to protect current and future generations from the harm and costs associated with climate change and toxic air pollution emitted by coal-fired power plants," representatives from five Ohio environmental groups wrote in a letter to the governor urging him to veto the legislation. "Additionally, we have an obligation to ensure that Ohio's policies are designed to ensure low-cost, low-emission electricity for families and businesses and that the state is investing in a future that employs a diversity of clean energy resources. SB 310 takes us in the wrong direction."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.