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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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A diverse group of agencies and organizations has backed an amendment to a bill pending in the Ohio Senate, contending its amendment is a better compromise to Senate Bill 58, which would change the state’s electric utility law passed in 2008 that promotes alternative energy sources.

The group says its compromise will better protect Ohio manufacturers, businesses and residential users from higher electricity prices while continuing to provide the benefits of energy efficiency to all consumers.

SB 58 is working its way through the Senate Public Utilities Committee and has had several hearings.

Bruce Weston, Ohio Consumer’s Counsel, said the compromise amendment removes changes in the bill that would increase electric rates, including a 33 percent tax utilities would be allowed to collect from consumers realized through energy efficiency programs.

He said it also removes provisions that weaken efficiency standards such as allowing utilities to count upgrades to old power plants toward energy efficiency benchmarks. The amendment does retain an opt-out program that will allow large industrial consumers to be exempted from the program if they’ve already adopted energy efficiency practices.

Weston testified before the utilities committee on Oct. 9

He also decried the bill’s effect on taxes.

“Consumers would be required to pay for the utilities’ taxes on their profit from the percentage payment,” he said. “The utilities would take an additional $20 million from customers for every $100 million in efficiency savings. The 33 percent and the tax effect mean that customers forgo more than half of the energy efficiency benefits by paying them as profits to the utility.”

Eric Burkland, president of the Ohio Manufacturers Association, said the compromise “…strikes the right balance by helping the largest energy users while maintaining the existing energy efficiency that is helping Ohio manufacturers lower costs and improve their competitiveness.”

A study commissioned by the OMA concluded the bill could erase $2.5 billion in projected savings realized by energy efficiency measures from 2014 through 2020.

Other members of the coalition opposed to SB 58 are Ohio Partners for Affordable Energy, Ohio Environmental Council, Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, Ohio Hospital Association, Environmental Defense Fund, and Mom’s Clean Air Force.

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