Ohio Manufacturers’ Association pushes to maintain Ohio’s energy standards
Dr. Neal Elliot, associate director for research for the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), was a panelist at the Senate Public Utilities Committee on April 23, 2013 where he testified on behalf of the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association (OMA) in support of the state’s energy efficiency standards enacted in 2008. The standards require that electric distribution utilities (EDUs) implement energy efficiency programs to achieve cumulative, annual energy savings in excess of 22 percent by the end of 2025.
The committee began hearings in early March on placeholder language introduced by Chairman Bill Seitz (R- Cincinnati), which calls for a review and possible modification of the state’s renewable, energy efficiency and peak demand standards.
Elliot said continuing utility commitments to meeting the standards in coming years could save customers a total of almost $5.6 billion in avoided energy expenditures. The program administration costs are estimated to be $2.7 billion. He pointed to a study commissioned by the OMA, which found that utility energy efficiency programs generate significant financial benefits to Ohio’s customers in four primary ways:
- Helps reduce customer demand for electricity, thereby directly reducing monthly electricity bills for participants.
- Reduces customer demand, or load, which lowers wholesale energy prices, particularly in the short- and medium-term.
- Lowers wholesale capacity prices by bidding in energy efficiency resources into the competitive retail market.
- Provides revenue for utilities that bid energy efficiency resources into wholesale capacity auctions, which helps to offset energy efficiency program costs.
Previous witnesses cited low electric prices and natural gas discoveries as reasons to freeze or modify the standards. Elliot rejected these assertions saying, “While natural gas prices have reached historically low levels and an abundance of shale gas has been discovered in the Marcellus and Utica Formations, neither of these phenomena preclude the need for investments in energy efficiency.”
Chairman Seitz indicated there may be an additional hearing to allow for public testimony prior to introduction of a substitute bill. It is unclear when a substitute bill will be adopted.
Cuyahoga County Executive to challenge Governor Kasich
After considering the prospect for months, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, a Democrat, crossed the state this week making appearances in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati to announce his decision to run for governor in 2014.
Governor John Kasich, who has not yet officially declared his intent to run for a second term, declined to respond to the announcement. A Quinnipiac University poll released April 18, 2013 showed Governor Kasich with a 46-37 percent lead over FitzGerald.
Prior to being elected the county’s first executive, FitzGerald was commissioned as a special agent with the FBI, assigned to the Organized Crime Task Force in Chicago. FitzGerald then served as a supervising assistant county prosecutor, a lawyer in private practice and then Mayor of Lakewood. Ed and his wife Shannon have been married for 19 years and have four children, ages 10-17.
Legislation considered this week
Insurance navigators: Sponsored by Representatives Barbara Sears (R- Sylvania) and Stephanie Kunze (R- Hilliard), House Bill 3 specifies licensing and continuing education requirements for insurance agents involved in selling, soliciting or negotiating insurance through a health benefit exchange. The bill passed the Ohio Senate on April 23 and now awaits the governor’s approval.
Stillbirth certificates: Sponsored by Representative Brian Hill (R- Zanesville), House Bill 95 renames certificates recognizing the delivery of a stillborn infant as certificates of birth resulting in stillbirth. The bill was approved by the Ohio House on April 24.
Repeal medical devices tax: Sponsored by Representative Andy Brenner (R- Powell), House Concurrent Resolution 6 urges the Congress of the United States and President of the United States to repeal the new federal excise tax on medical devices. The resolution was approved by the Ohio House on April 24.
Enterprise zones: Sponsored by Senator Bill Beagle (R- Tipp City), Senate Bill 112 would extend the authority of municipal corporations and counties to enter into enterprise zone agreements with businesses until October 15, 2014. The bill was referred to the Senate Workforce and Economic Development Committee, which Senator Beagle chairs.
Sweepstakes cafes: Sponsored by Senate President Keith Faber (R- Celina), Senate Bill 115 would extend the moratorium on new establishments conducting sweepstakes by sweepstakes terminal devices. The legislation includes an emergency clause, which would make the bill effective immediately.
Entertainment districts: Sponsored by leader Kearney, Senate Bill 116 would allow municipal corporations with a population of more than 50,000 to create municipal entertainment districts and exempt persons within such districts from the open container law.
Ohio Board of Tax Appeals: Sponsored by Representatives Jeff McClain (R- Upper Sandusky) and Tom Letson (D- Warren), House Bill 138 would make changes to the law governing the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals. Among the provisions included, the bill would authorize a small claims division within the board and grant the board authority to grant summary judgments and consider motions. Additionally, House Bill 138 would authorize the tax commissioner to expedite and issue a final determination for residential property value appeals with written consent of the parties. The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and is scheduled for two hearings next week.
Hospital admissions: Sponsored by Representative Anne Gonzales (R- Westerville), House Bill 139 would permit certain advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to admit patients to hospitals.
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