Ohio regulator blasts renewable energy on Twitter

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The utility regulator who led last week’s vote nixing a major Ohio solar project has used his Twitter account over the past year to steadily criticize solar, wind and renewable energy and to question global warming.

The posts are among more than 1,000 tweets and retweets in the past year by Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairman Todd Snitchler, a former Republican state lawmaker from Uniontown. Gov. John Kasich appointed the Uniontown Republican as chairman in March 2011.

Observers of the commission told The Columbus Dispatch for a story Saturday that past PUCO chairs weren’t so overtly political.

“I would say they were a little more circumspect,” said William Spratley, who was state consumers’ counsel from 1977 to 1993.

Snitchler joined a 3-1 vote last week rejecting American Electric Power’s proposal to incorporate power from the Turning Point Solar project into its renewable energy portfolio. The vote ignored the advice of commission staff.

As PUCO chairman, Snitchler also leads a panel that considers whether major wind and solar projects are in the public interest.

The newspaper reported that Snitchler retweeted a story titled “Elites of West have cranked up myth of Global Warming” from the Russian newspaper Pravda, calling it “interesting.”

He also noted on the social networking site how “clean-energy aid racks up losses” and “the Himalayas and nearby peaks have lost no ice in past 10 years, study shows.”

Snitchler further shared the conservative Drudge Report’s “complete list of green energy failures” and conservative political commentator Laura Ingraham’s “windbag & greeniac update,” the newspaper’s review found.

He retweeted “electric cars pose environmental threat,” ”after Sandy no one lined up for wind turbines” and that the “?’green’ religion is taking over from Christian religion.”

The Dispatch said no posting was positive toward renewable energy.

PUCO spokesman Jason Gilham said all five commission members no doubt have their own political leanings, and Ohio law mandates that the panel include both Democrats and Republicans.

Snitchler’s Twitter profile indicates “these tweets are mine and do not reflect the views of the PUCO or anyone else.” The newspaper reports, however, that his page includes notices of PUCO hearings and official news.

Gilham said Snitchler has not tweeted on any active cases.