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Ohio Lawmakers Propose New Renewable Energy Standards

Wind turbines
Waldemar Brandt

A study out this week shows kids are very worried about climate change. And there’s long been concern about the effect of some energy and environmental policies on low-income people and minorities. Two Democratic state lawmakers said they have a bill that would address both of those issues in Ohio.

The bill requires that by 2050, all electricity generated in Ohio would come from renewable sources, and clean energy development would be directed toward communities most harmed by current energy policies.

Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland) said it will speak to younger people considering leaving Ohio.

“What do you think it would do mentally, emotionally?" Howse said at a press conference at the Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland. "You’d be like, ‘you know what? They’re actually thinking about our future.’ They will actually have, plant seeds that ‘I want to be here, I want to raise my family here’.”

The bill would also make building wind and solar projects easier, give regulators more audit and investigation power over utilities and create an Office of Energy Justice to oversee decisions of the Public Utilities Commission.

Though the nuclear power plant subsidies in the sweeping nuclear power plant bailout known as House Bill 6 have been repealed, there are other elements of the law still in place, including subsidies for two coal-fired power plants.

Howse’s cosponsor Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) said one place where he thinks there’s common ground between Republicans and Democrats is on coal.

“We are actively propping up, on the backs of Ohioans, a completely non-competitive source of energy that is shutting down everywhere else," Weinstein said. "And I’m proud to say there’s bipartisan support to end the subsidies on coal. We’re talking about the next step beyond that.”

But natural gas is still a big part of Ohio’s energy policy. And in a legislature dominated by Republicans, many of whom voted to pull back on renewable energy standards before effectively killing them in House Bill 6, this bill faces an uphill battle.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.