December 2, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A hearing is expected today on legislation that has generated a lot of controversy in Ohio. Senate Bill 58 was introduced by Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) in an effort to revamp the policies surrounding Ohio's energy-efficiency and renewable-energy standards.
State associate director of AARP Ohio Bill Sundermeyer said the proposed changes would dramatically hike electric bills, with consumers paying up to 33 percent more.
"The more we have people in those lower-income brackets - and we have a sizable number: 11 percent here in Ohio who make less than $20,000 - when you see those kinds of increases, that's what causes us very serious concerns," Sundermeyer said.
When utility bills increase, struggling families are forced to make choices between paying for food, prescriptions and other necessities, Sundermeyer said.
An earlier vote on the bill in the Senate Utilities Commission was canceled, and Seitz's office has been redrafting the bill over the past week.
Supporters of the legislation have contended that the changes would save consumers from higher electricity costs they would incur with current policies. However, Sundermeyer pointed out, the renewable-energy and efficiency standards have resulted in lower rates, and Senate Bill 58 would do just the opposite. It would give the savings generated by efficiency to the utilities and not to the consumers, he warned.
"This is not the wisest thing to do, and it's not the wisest thing to do at this point in time. There needs to be more study; there needs to be more consideration of everybody at the table, not just some energy company that's interested in making higher profit," he stressed.
It is estimated that Ohio's energy-efficiency standards have saved ratepayers almost $1 billion.
Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH
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