by Eric Sandy
Update: This story was originally published Tuesday, May 29. SB 310 was passed by the Ohio House and Senate on Wednesday and now awaits Gov. Kasich's approval or veto.
Ohio’s renewable energy standards, approved in 2008 to much fanfare on both sides of the proverbial aisle, are set for a proposed two-year freeze, per the latest draft of the state’s dubious Senate Bill 310.
At issue is the fact that Ohio was buzzing along relatively nicely under its 2008 provisions. Among statewide innovations under way, Cleveland’s LEEDCo is still planning on developing the state’s (and, while it’s a longshot now, the country’s) first offshore wind farm. SB 310 would halt the state’s requirements that an expanding ratio of energy must come from renewable sources, effectively putting a regulatory kibosh on new, green ideas.
Gov. John Kasich, who is eyeing what should be an easy slide into reelection in November, could now be facing backlash against his legion of supporters if things don’t go well. House Speaker William Batchelder (a Medina-based buddy of Kasich’s) has slowed SB 310 deliberations in the General Assembly after the bill passed out of the State Senate with a 21-11 vote. The Plain Dealer’s Thomas Suddes rightfully pointed out last weekend that if Batchelder had the votes, he’d have taken care of business. Such delay points to broader misgivings in Columbus.
The delay also opens the window for compromise, which fits in sweetly with Kasich’s vision of crafting a more dynamic and, frankly, interesting Republican Party. (Go read Henry Gomez’s clutch five-part Plain Dealer series on Kasich’s career if you missed it the other week. It’s worth the five hours it’ll take you to deal with cleveland.com’s search algorithm. Helpful direct link is at Cleveland.com/Kasich) Kasich is being given a prime opportunity to shepherd a more reasonable alternative to SB 310 into the Statehouse.
The bill as it stands does nothing but stall progress in Ohio’s energy industry. Any notions of returning to the drawing board and studying long-term impacts of green benchmarks can surely be done in media res with the renewable requirements in place, yes?
Then prior to the House vote, this becomes Kasich’s opportunity to win or lose votes.