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Legislators hear from opponents of bill that would change alternative energy and energy efficiency standards

This week the Senate's Public Utilities Committee held its second hearing on Senate Bill 58, the controversial measure that proposes to modify several portions of Ohio's Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and current laws governing electric utilities. Chairman Seitz, who is also the bill's sponsor, entertained opponent testimony well into the evening, hearing a myriad of complaints from renewable energy proponents, environmental groups and business owners who operate in renewable energy supply chain industries.

Opponents argued that doing away with the current 12.5 percent in-state renewable requirement, as the bill proposes, will stymie renewable energy development within the state and discourage utilities from buying in-state renewable power as it is currently more expensive than renewable power generated in surrounding states, according to a report released by the Public Utilities Commission.

Chairman Seitz quoted several state and federal court opinions to support his argument that the current law requiring 12.5 percent of renewable energy come from in-state sources is a violation of the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution. Seitz argued that he is attempting a fix to the widely held belief that in-state RPS requirements do in fact restrict interstate commerce.

An additional hearing has been scheduled for next week. Seitz would like the bill to pass by the end of the year, however, there is ongoing speculation on whether that timeline is feasible due to the amount of opposition to the bill. The Governor's office has not taken an official position on the bill, other than to say they are monitoring it closely and will comment at the appropriate time. Governor Kasich's office was the driving force behind SB 315, which was enacted in 2012. The administration touted the law as the state's first comprehensive energy policy as it streamlined, updated, strengthened, and developed the laws governing energy fields from utilities to the oil and gas industry.

Legislation considered this week

Boiler safety: Sponsored by Representative Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson), House Bill 12 will eliminate the licensed operator requirement for gaseous fuel and fuel oil fired boilers that comply with certain safety and engineering standards. The bill was voted out of the Senate on October 2.

Syringe exchange: Sponsored by Representative Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) and House Majority Floor Leader Barbara Sears (R-Sylvania), House Bill 92 will authorize the establishment of syringe exchange programs. The House passed the bill on October 2.

Hospital admissions: Sponsored by Representative Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville), House Bill 139 will permit certain advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to admit patients to hospitals. The bill was approved by the House on October 2.

Sales tax vendors: Sponsored by Representative John Rogers (D-Mentor on the Lake), House Bill 282 would authorize vendors and others required to hold a sales or use tax license, whose business and home address is the same, to apply to the Tax Commissioner to keep such address confidential. The bill was introduced on October 2.

For more information, please contact:

Michael Caputo
(non-attorney professional)
216.348.5770
mcaputo@mcdonaldhopkins.com

Rebecca M. Kuhns
(non-attorney professional)
614.458.0043
rkuhns@mcdonaldhopkins.com

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