The Ohio Energy Mandates Study Committee has until the end of the month to issue a report on the state’s frozen energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements. The report, due to the Ohio House and Senate, was mandated by legislation signed into law by Governor John Kasich in June 2014. Legislators will then have until the end of the year to decide what policy to implement; but if they do nothing, the efficiency and renewable standards will unfreeze.

American Legislative Exchange Council-member Senator Bill Seitz recently said, “We’re not prepared to continue our march up State Mandate Mountain in the face of this federal overreach which will be unfolding over the next three years.” Sen. Seitz also said that voluntary incentives could be one of the recommendations from the committee.

The Energy & Policy Institute filed public record requests with several of the committee members, including Sen. Seitz, to understand what lobbying firms, utility industry representatives, and front groups have been working to influence the committee. But, it’s important to review how the situation unfolded especially in light of public records from 2014 that have never been published.

Timeline of events show the repeated effort by Ohio ALEC members to end the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency law:

2012: The Heartland Institute joined with the American Legislative Exchange Council to write model legislation aimed at repealing renewable energy standards across the country. ALEC’s board of directors adopted the Electricity Freedom Act in October.

2012: Sen. Jordan introduced SB 221 to repeal the renewable energy and efficiency standard.

2013: Sen. Jordan introduced SB 34 that again would have completely repealed the requirements. The bill never made it out of committee.

March 2013: Sen. Seitz made headlines when he said the state standards remind him of “Joseph Stalin’s five-year plan.” Months later, Sen. Seitz introduced substitute SB 58, which would limit how much utilities can spend on energy efficiency programs while eliminating the requirements for in-state renewable energy targets.

December 2013: Sen. Seitz canceled a possible committee vote. When asked if he’d scrap the bill, Seitz said, “We’ve just begun to fight.”

February 2014: Sen. Seitz reintroduced SB 58 and insisted that Advanced Energy Economy made inaccurate economic projections about the state’s requirements during hearings in 2013. Sen. Seitz pointed to Jonathan Lesser, president of Continental Economics, Inc., and his report’s conclusions that the law imposes high costs on consumers with negligible benefits. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business-Ohio and Industrial Energy Users-Ohio funded the report.

March 2014: Senator Troy Balderson introduced SB 310, and then Seitz cosponsored the legislation. Two months later, the Ohio legislature passed SB 310 that froze the state’s renewable energy and efficiency requirements for two years. Gov. Kasich, former ALEC member who received more than $200,000 in campaign contributions from utility, coal, and oil and gas companies over the last two election cycles, signed the legislation in June.

According to an internal ALEC tracking document obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, 31 bills relating to the ALEC Electricity Freedom Act were introduced in 2014, with ALEC scoring its first success in Ohio as it voted to freeze its state mandate.

We will continue to track the Ohio Energy Mandates Study Committee as the process continues this fall.

Emails from 2014 public records request pulls back the curtain identifying the major lobbyists working with ALEC-member Sen. Seitz:

September 19, 2013: Jamie Lynch sent around call-in information to Chrisy Wright, State Government Affairs Manager at American Electric Power; Michael Brello, State Government Affairs Manager at American Electric Power; Ty Pine, Director of State Affairs at FirstEnergy; John Keaton, State Government Affairs Director at Duke Energy; Tom Raga, Director of Government Relations at Dayton Power and Light – just to name a few. The agenda of the meeting was to discuss substitute SB 58’s language, which was scheduled to be distributed the following week after review from the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.

November 19, 2013: Scott Elisar of McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC responded to Jamie Lynch’s email asking for an opinion on what is “an appropriate (brief) response” to Chrissie Thompson of The Cincinnati Enquirer regarding the Ohio Advance Energy Economy information. Elisar tells Lynch to point to the Lesser study, funded by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business-Ohio, and Industrial Energy Users-Ohio, which is an association of large Ohio industrial and commercial energy consumers.

One of Elisar’s clients is the Industrial Energy Users-Ohio, and another is Vectren Corporation. In 2014, McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC sponsored the 18th Annual Ohio Energy Management Conference along with American Electric Power, Duke Energy, FirstEnergy, Industrial Energy Users – Ohio, along with others.

November 19, 2013: An Ohio Advanced Energy Economy letter to Sen. Seitz with a comment that appears to be written by Sen. Seitz reading, “More complete fabrications from people with zero credibility.”

November 19, 2013: Jamie Lynch forwarded talking points, at the request of Sen. Seitz, from Lisa Linowes, executive director of Wind Action Group Corp. to Craig Butler, former Assistant Policy Director for Energy, Agriculture and the Environment in Gov. Kasich’s office (Butler is now the director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency); former Public Utilities Commission Chairman Todd Snitchler; a list titled, “Public Utilities;” and rep27@ohiohouse.gov (presumably former Rep. Peter Stautberg). The talking points from Linowes were in response to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) oral testimony on SB 58.

November 20, 2013: Jamie Lynch forwarded information, at the request of Sen. Seitz, from Lisa Linowes, executive director of Wind Action Group Corp. to Senator Obhof; Senator Widener; Senator Faber; Craig Butler; “Public Utilities;” and rep27@ohiohouse.gov.

November 20, 2013: Jamie Lynch forwarded talking points, at the request of Sen. Seitz, from Nicholas E. D’Angelo, an independent lobbyist at the time and former policy advisor to Ohio House Speaker William Batchelder, regarding an amendment to SB 58. As an independent lobbyist, D’Angelo’s clients included Direct Energy, one of North America’s largest retail suppliers of natural gas and electricity.

December 2, 2013: Michael Beirne at American Municipal Power emailed Jamie Lynch his responses to Marcus Roth of Gongwer News Service after the “wind folks went to Gongwer” regarding the “policy rationale for adding old hydro plants to the RPS.”

December 27, 2013: Jamie Lynch, at the request of Sen. Seitz, emailed Tom Raga (DP&L) and Mike Brello (AEP), to get an update on how to respond to “allegations”that SB 58 will cost Ohio families more money. Raga is now Dayton Power & Light’s president and CEO.

 

Posted by Matt Kasper

Matt Kasper is the Research Director at the Energy & Policy Institute. He focuses on defending policies that further the development of clean energy sources. He also frequently focuses on the companies and their front groups that obstruct policy solutions to global warming. His work has appeared in The Guardian, the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, and other outlets.

One Comment

  1. […] repealed the renewable energy standards entirely. Seitz also sits on the board of directors of the American Legislative Exchange Council, which urges states to adopt its model ‘Electricity Freedom Act’ that refers to such […]

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