In his first State of the State address, Gov. Mike DeWine called for an all-of-the-above energy policy that would power our homes, strengthen our economy and move Ohio forward. When put into the overarching theme of his speech — “Invest in Ohio, invest in our future” — it is evident that energy will continue to play as much of a role in Ohio’s future as it has in our state’s past. The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum could not agree more.
OHCEF was founded in 2015 by conservatives who believe in a genuine all-of-the-above approach to Ohio’s energy policy. Our organization recognizes Ohio’s rich history with traditional energy sources such as coal, nuclear and natural gas while remaining committed to advancing innovative, affordable renewable energy and energy efficiency. Through a true “from the ground up” attitude, Ohio can lower consumer costs and produce reliable, market-competitive, made-in-Ohio energy.
DeWine’s State of the State address touched on the idea of a “new Ohio renaissance.” By diversifying Ohio’s energy policy, we can bring jobs to our state in a rapidly growing and advancing industry. In 2017, Ohio had more than 107,500 clean-energy jobs and that number continues to climb. A commitment to new sources of energy generation will advance Ohio’s economy, bring jobs for our state’s families and pump money into local economies — money that can be used to fix our roads, invest in educational materials for our children or bolster the resources of our first responders.
A poll of Ohio conservative voters, commissioned by OHCEF, was released last month. This poll showed 84 percent of Ohio conservatives wanting at least a quarter of Ohio’s electricity to come from renewable sources of energy. This stands in stark disproportion to Ohio’s current energy mix. As of today, Ohio produces just 3 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. In the absence of a comprehensive energy policy for Ohio, our neighbors are rapidly outpacing the Buckeye State in advancing renewable-energy policies and the economic opportunities that come with embracing diversity in energy generation.
In fact, the number of Ohio conservatives demanding a diversified energy portfolio is not decreasing or remaining stagnant, it is increasing. Since OHCEF’s annual polling began in 2016, this number has grown by 8 percent. Further, there is agreement across demographics on the popularity of diversified energy. Every single demographic across gender and age had at least 75 percent support for increased production of renewable energy.
The bottom line is conservative Ohio voters want more renewable energy. A full 91 percent of conservatives are even willing to pay more for renewable energy. According to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, it costs an Ohio ratepayer, on average, less than 40 cents per month to have their utility invest in new, renewable sources of energy generation. Less than $5 per year is an awfully small investment that will undoubtedly pay large dividends in Ohio’s future.
So how do we achieve this? Let’s start by fixing onerous government regulations like the current wind setback mandate — the most restrictive in the country. Our poll found that 75 percent of Ohio conservatives support establishing reasonable setback distances for wind turbines that will protect individual landowner rights and allow for wind-energy investment to occur in rural Ohio.
Let’s allow utility customers who generate their own power through solar panels to be compensated for generating more power on their land than they can use. And even when the sun is not shining or when the wind is not blowing, let’s utilize our state’s system of higher education to embrace a culture of innovation that will accelerate the adoption of battery storage technologies.
All policies mentioned enjoy the support of at least 75 percent of conservative voters in Ohio. Now it is time for the Ohio General Assembly to act. Energy may not always be on the forefront of our minds, but we must enact responsible, forward-thinking energy policies that will keep our nation safe by contributing to America’s energy independence and dominance. We all want clean air, clean water and healthy state parks in Ohio’s future. It is up to all of us to think about the legacy we will be leaving our children.
Gov. DeWine concluded his address by calling on Ohioans to hold tight to the spirit of Ohio grit and determination in order to move Ohio forward. By looking the innovation of tomorrow in the face and embracing new, market-competitive sources of energy production, conservatives can lead Ohio and her economy to a more prosperous future.
Tyler M. Duvelius is executive director of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum.