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Ohio Legislators Could Wipe Out Energy Efficiency Incentives

Ohio consumer advocates and environmentalists have been worrying out loud that state legislators might water down or wipe out a 4-year old program that encourages electricity customers to be more energy-efficient. Now, as statehouse correspondent Bill Cohen reports --- some comments by the top man in the Ohio Senate show those activists have good REASON to worry.

Ohio's program adds surcharges onto everyone's monthly electrical bills and then uses the money to send checks to individual who buy energy efficient stoves and refrigerators and to factories and stores that buy energy saving heating equipment and manufacturing systems. Backers contend that for every $1 spent $3 are saved in lower utility bills. But Senate President Tom Niehaus isn't so sure the program makes sense, he says Ohio's energy landscape is much different now than what it was when lawmakers O.K.'d the program.

"Back then we were looking at electric energy consumption going up at least 3% a year we were looking at importing natural gas. Today we are looking at an overabundance of natural gas thankfully here in the state of Ohio. Energy consumption is decreasing and so it is just a completely different landscape and I think when situations that dramatic change we have a reasonability to step back and say does what we did three years ago make sense in light of today's facts?"

Niehaus isn't saying whether legislators should review the program now, during a lame duck session, or wait till a new legislature takes office in January.

Bill Cohen for Ohio Statehouse News Bureau.

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