WASHINGTON, June 13 (Reuters) - Ohio Governor John Kasich on Friday signed legislation to freeze a six-year old law that required utilities to sell increasing amounts of green energy, making the state the first in the country to roll back a clean energy mandate.
Kasich, a Republican mentioned as a possible contender for the 2016 presidential race, signed Senate Bill 310, which passed in the state’s legislature with strong support from some of Ohio’s biggest industrial power users, such as Alcoa, and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
A number of other companies with operations in the state, including Honda Motor, Honeywell and Whirlpool , opposed the freeze, and have said it will risk new jobs in the state.
The original 2008 Ohio law called on utilities to sell more green power each year. The Senate bill freezes the mandate at current levels until 2017.
The move comes after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a proposal on June 2 to put the U.S. power sector on track to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.
Each state has been given an individual target. Ohio needs to cut the amount of carbon it emits per megawatt hour of electricity produced by 28 percent.
Environmental groups have said that suspending the clean energy plan means Ohio will not be able to meet the recently introduced EPA carbon emission limits.
The original law passed easily under Kasich’s predecessor, Democrat Ted Strickland. It required Ohio utilities to sell at least 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources like wind or solar by 2025.
The law also required utilities to boost energy efficiency, reducing customers’ power usage by 22 percent.
In announcing on Friday afternoon that Kasich signed the bill, his office did not offer a comment. (Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Ros Krasny and Dan Grebler)