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Ohio Senate Delays Vote On Bill To Weaken Renewable Energy Rules

The energy bill that would overhaul Ohio’s renewable and efficiency policies has stalled in committee. The highly-contentious issue was scheduled for a hearing and a possible vote on Wednesday, but that was called off. With the cancellation of Wednesday’s hearing and the Senate prepared to go on break until the New Year, it appears the energy bill might be losing support in the Republican caucus. Republican Senator Bill Seitz is the committee chairman and sponsor of the legislation. He released a statement to say he canceled the meeting to give members more time to consider the provisions of the bill, nothing more. But Senator Lou Gentile, a top Democrat on the committee says it’s a sign that legislators are beginning to question the proposal. Gentile: “I think it’s lost significant momentum. I think there’s concern in both parties—both Democrats and Republicans because the investors and utilities are meeting their benchmarks.â€? Both sides agree that the bill would make changes to a consumer’s electric bill, but supporters say the legislation would save Ohioans from exploding costs and opponents say ratepayers would be forced to dish out more money that would pad the pocketbooks of utilities. Doug Colafella with FirstEnergy, a major supporter of the bill, says he continues to see increased support outside of the Statehouse. Colafella: “In terms of legislative support—I don’t want to comment on that but what I can tell you is that the number of businesses that are stepping forward and supporting the bill grows every day.â€? Senator Seitz plans to take a revamped approach to energy overhaul next year, which includes continued work on the bill; meetings on another piece of legislation that would repeal Ohio’s efficiency standards altogether; and a legal fight against the so-called Buy Ohio provision that requires utilities to get a portion of renewable energy from Ohio-based sources.