More than 60 businesses testify against extending Ohio's freeze on renewable energy

By John Funk, The Plain Dealer.

COLUMBUS -- The two-year battle over green energy standards has slammed the development of wind and solar, cost businesses a lot of money initially invested here and driven some companies out of the state, a crowd of green business proponents told Ohio lawmakers Tuesday.

More than 60 witnesses showed up to testify before the Ohio Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee. All were opposed to Senate Bill 320, sponsored by Sen. William Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican.

Committee chair Troy Balderson, a Zanesville Republican, limited witnesses to speaking for just two minutes. Written versions of the testimony can be found on the committee's website.

Opponents say the bill and its companion legislation, House Bill 554, would, in effect, extend for three more years the two-year freeze on green standards that lawmakers imposed in 2014 after the state's utilities complained.

The legislation would require that green energy would account for 12.5 percent of the electricity power companies sell in Ohio by 2027. The renewable energy could come from Ohio or contiguous states.

The standard in Ohio today is 2.5 percent, the same as it was in 2014, when the legislature intervened to freeze the annually increasing mandate.

Because Gov. John Kasich has threatened to veto an extension of the freeze, the GOP leadership has written the legislation so that it makes compliance with the standards a voluntary goal for the next three years, continuing to stall wind and solar development.