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Energy Bill Can Be Better

December 5, 2013
By THE INTELLIGENCER , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Supporters of a bill to change how electric utilities are governed in Ohio had hoped to enact the proposal quickly. A state Senate committee vote on it had been scheduled for Wednesday.

But the vote was canceled that morning. In all likelihood, that meant supporters realized they did not have the votes to advance the bill.

That is good news for Buckeye State residents. While the measure has some good points, it could be much better. It should be improved before going to the floor of either house in the General Assembly.

One roadblock thrown in the way of the bill was an assessment that it could add as much as $175 a year to the average residential electric bill in Ohio. That prediction came from state Consumers' Counsel Bruce Western.

Opinion on the bill has been divided, in large measure because of its provisions regarding "renewable" or "alternative" energy. Under a 2008 law, utilities are required to produce at least 12.5 percent of their power from sources such as wind, solar and hydropower, by 2025. In addition to that, another 12.5 percent must come from "advanced" sources such as clean coal generating stations or nuclear reactors, also by 2025.

Ohioans should be permitted to buy the cheapest electricity that can be produced, of course. Mandates such as those in the 2008 law make it more expensive for utilities to produce power.

The bill before state senators would relax those mandates somewhat, but not rescind them. That makes no sense.

Forcing power companies to use ultra-expensive - and very unreliable - sources of energy such as wind and solar power sends their costs soaring. The mandate already has been blamed for higher electric bills in Ohio.

Cancellation of the vote Wednesday on Senate Bill 58 may mean the measure is dead for this year. It could be resurrected in early 2014, however. Between now and then, sponsors of the bill should ensure it rescinds the 2008 mandates and allows Ohioans to have the cheapest electricity possible. Lawmakers who delayed the bill Wednesday were right to do so, in the best interests of their constituents.

 
 

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