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Exhaust from a Power PlantThe Ohio state legislature has passed a bill that would put a two-year freeze on its renewable energy and efficiency standards, and Republican Governor John Kasich has agreed to sign it into law.

Ohio is one of 29 states with renewable energy mandates, requiring 25 percent of its utilities to receive power from renewable energy sources as well as shrinking customers’ power consumption by 22 percent by 2025. If Senate Bill 310 becomes law, Ohio will be exempt from these standards for two years, during which time the legislature will consider modifying them. According to Republican Representative Peter Stautberg, the rollback is necessary because the standards “are simply not achievable or sustainable.”

Republicans have touted the unsustainability of sustainable energy since ALEC and the conservative Heartland Institute began their campaign to undo America’s renewable mandates in 2012. Their stance has been eloquently summed up by Ohio’s House Speaker William G. Batchelder, R-Medina: “I think some people really believe in this green stuff. That’s fine. But somebody’s going to have to answer to the public as this additional expense gets added on.”

It’s understandable that the Ohio establishment balks at renewable energy mandates. Almost 70 percent of the state’s power comes from coal. Pulling back from that is painted by many conservative and energy lobbyists as untenable – both from a structural and financial perspective.

However, from 2009 – 2012, Ohio’s energy efficiency programs led to $1 billion in savings, double the $500 million cost. Yet the Republican argument remains immune to these figures.

The man who signed the standard into law in 2008, former Governor Ted Strickland, cannot hide his disgust at the impending rollback. “It’s an example of Ohio returning to the Dark Ages,” he told Bloomberg.

The bill received almost unanimous opposition from Democratic House members, as well as a handful of Republicans. It passed the House 53-38 and was approved by the Senate on Wednesday.

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