VIDEOS: Kasich defends GOP plan to temporarily freeze energy mandates

By MARC KOVAC @ohiocapitalblog mkovac@dixcom.com Published:

COLUMBUS -- Gov. John Kasich defended a Republican plan to temporarily freeze renewable energy and efficiency mandates while lawmakers determine whether earlier-passed benchmarks are still appropriate.

Following a bill signing in suburban Columbus, the governor also reiterated his support for green energy.

"We hit the right solution," Kasich told reporters Monday, three days after signing Senate Bill 310 into law. He added later, "I believe in the wind and solar... I believe in energy efficiency. We just have to have targets that are ... realistic."

About six years ago, lawmakers passed and Gov. Ted Strickland signed into law mandates requiring power companies to generate a certain percentage of their energy from renewable sources and to institute efficiency initiatives. Utilities are allowed to pass the costs of meeting the mandates onto their customers.

But Republican lawmakers increasingly have voiced concerns about the benchmarks, saying the requirements will lead to big increases in energy bills for businesses and consumers.

Before breaking for their summer recess, the Republican-controlled chambers passed SB 310, which freezes renewable energy and efficiency benchmarks for the next two years and creates a study committee that will have to offer recommendations for future energy-related law changes by September 2015.

Absent subsequent legislative action, the renewable energy and efficiency mandates in current law would restart in 2017.

"We should take a pause and do a reset," Kasich said Monday. "We're not going to have any cap on this so that we hurt renewables. We're not going to have a freeze. If you do not give me something that makes sense, we're back to the 25 percent (in current state law)."

He added, "I'm never going to be in a position of where we don't recognize the value of batteries, renewables, of energy efficiency. Let's just come up with a number that can be met realistically in the state. ... Anything short of that, I'll veto the bill."

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