By Pamela Sampson, AP Business Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A contentious bill delaying the phase-in of Ohio's renewable energy and efficiency standards cleared a key legislative panel Tuesday, as state lawmakers seek to finish the measure before leaving for summer break.
The proposal addresses targets for how much energy Ohio utilities must generate from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, by 2025. The House Public Utilities Committee approved the bill 13-9, sending it to the full House.
Opponents of the legislation - including advanced-energy companies, faith and civil-rights leaders and environmentalists - have lobbied hard against the bill's two-year pause in the standards negotiated by Gov. John Kasich and senators. They say such targets promote environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fuels and create high-tech jobs in the growing alternative-energy sector.
The bill's backers contend the targets drive up prices for average electric consumers who have been given little choice in the matter.
The measure cleared the Senate earlier this month after a committee backed off efforts to effectively repeal the mandates through a permanent moratorium.
Current law requires utilities to produce 12.5 percent of their energy from renewable sources and 12.5 percent from advanced sources by 2025. The law also required companies to help customers reduce electricity use 22 percent by 2025.
But the bill would effectively pause the progress on the targets for two years as a new study committee looks at the issue. The benchmarks would resume as scheduled in 2017 unless lawmakers act on the study panel's recommendations before then. And the phase-in of targets would conclude in 2027 in order to allow for the two-year hiatus.