Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Pushback on Green Power

Wind turbines that collect renewable energy, set in a pasture in Van Wert County, Ohio, are visible for miles. (Credit: Laura J. Gardner/The Journal Gazette, via Associated Press) Click to enlarge.
As renewable energy production has surged in recent years, opponents of government policies that have helped spur its growth have pushed to roll back those incentives and mandates in state after state.

On Wednesday, they claimed their first victory, when Ohio lawmakers voted to freeze the phasing-in of power that utilities must buy from renewable energy sources.

The bill, which passed the Ohio House of Representatives, 54 to 38, was expected to be signed into law by Gov. John R. Kasich, who helped negotiate its final draft.

It stands in marked contrast to the broad consensus behind the original law in 2008, when it was approved with virtually no opposition, and comes after considerable disagreement among lawmakers, energy executives and public interest groups.

Opponents of the mandates argued, in part, that wind and solar power, whose costs have plunged in recent years, should compete on their own with traditional fossil fuels.  But the debate has taken on a broader, more political tone as well, analysts say, with disagreements over the role of government, the economic needs of the state and the debate over climate change.

Since 2013, more than a dozen states have taken up proposals to weaken or eliminate green energy mandates and incentives, often helped by conservative and libertarian policy or advocacy groups like the Heartland Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

In Kansas, for example, lawmakers recently defeated a bill that would have phased out the state’s renewable energy mandates, but its backers have vowed to propose it again.

A Pushback on Green Power

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