By Phil McKenna, Inside Climate News.
Legislation that would undo a renewable energy mandate in Ohio passed a key vote in the state House of Representatives on Thursday. The bill, turning Ohio's existing renewable energy requirements into voluntary standards, passed by a vote of 65-29.
That would be a large enough margin for the House to override a veto by Gov. John Kasich, but only if the Senate goes along.
The current law, passed in 2008, requires utilities to get 12.5 percent of the electricity they sell from renewable energy sources by 2027. After an early fight, this deadline was put on hold from 2014 to the end of 2016. The current bill would continue to block the advance of the renewables mandate. The state met its current mandate of getting 2.5 percent of electricity from renewables in 2014, the most recent year for which data is available.
The new legislation, championed by the Republican-led House and supported by fossil fuel interests, would make the clean-energy quota voluntary and would weaken separate requirements for utilities' energy efficiency programs. Ratepayers would be able to opt out of paying for clean-energy programs.
The bill, a potentially significant setback for renewable energy in a key swing state with extensive fossil fuel development, is one of hundreds of state energy bills, both for and against renewables, that are being fought out nationwide this year even as the Trump administration seeks to bring back coal and promote fossil fuels.