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With a 92-0 House vote and 32-0 Senate vote, the Ohio Legislature has passed an energy policy bill (Senate Bill 221) designed to protect consumers from rate increases that could have occurred with the expiration of the state's electric utility rate stabilization plans at the end of this year. In addition to establishing certain operating parameters for competitive electric retail service in the state, the bill includes standards for use of renewable resources and energy-efficiency programs.

The bill creates a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) for Ohio's electric distribution utilities to deliver 0.25% of demand from renewable energy resources starting in 2009 and at least 12.5% by 2024. The RPS increases by 0.5% annually from 2010 through 2024 and provides a solar set-aside for 0.5% of the total 12.5%. Of the 25% total mandate, half can be obtained from “advanced energy resources” that support reductions in energy consumption.

Following House passage of the bill, Gov. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio, issued a public statement in support of the vote.

"This legislation meets all of the principles I outlined nearly one year ago today," Strickland said. "Among these principles are a commitment to accountability and transparency, ensuring consumers are on equal footing with utilities, and working to aggressively attract renewable and advanced energy investment in Ohio in order to create jobs and recognize the influence of global climate change."

A representative of the governor's office says Strickland plans to sign the bill May 1.

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