Energy Innovation Becoming Serious Business in Ohio

With at least 11 separate legislative proposals to promote energy innovation floating around the state capitol, two of Ohio's leading business associations have joined forces in support of Gov. Ted Strickland's so-called 'advanced energy strategy' saying the plan would secure reasonable power rates, modernize the grid, and generate jobs.

The governor's agenda was recently presented to the Energy & Public Utilities Committee in the Ohio Senate.

A key tenet of the proposal, introduced last August, would mandate that Ohio satisfy 25 percent of its electricity needs with wind, solar, and other advanced energy sources by 2025.

Environmentalists have expressed some skepticism because the term "advanced" leaves the door open to investments in technologies such as clean coal and nuclear. But labor leaders and manufacturers are expressing rare joint support for the proposal, illustrating the governor's plan continues to unite a broad coalition for new policies.

The Ohio AFL-CIO issued a statement saying the plan is "a thoughtful, comprehensive effort to protect Ohio’s working families, consumers and businesses from the instability of de-regulation and as a tool to spur economic development and job growth in Ohio."

Ohio Manufacturers Association President Eric Burkland reportedly called the governor's proposal a "jobs bill."

The statements come as a series of bills in the state House and Senate aim to bring Ohio's energy agenda into the 21st century. One bill would provide a tax credite to consumers who purchase hybrid cars. Another would require energy producers to minimize mercury pollution. Still another would create a special Council on Sustainable Energy Development.

Clearly, the urgent message gaining strength in Ohio is that passage of these sorts of bills will stimulate new business opportunities and put people to work in the economy of the future. The question now becomes how quickly will these ideas pass throught the lethargic political process and become law. Doesn't seem too outrageous to require biofuels on the Ohio Turnpike.