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Guest Column from State Representative Laura Lanese: National Clean Energy Week: It's about Improving our Future

September 27, 2018
Laura Lanese News

This week is National Clean Energy week and in recognition of that, I believe we should open the conversation to discussing renewable energies and what that technology would mean for our state. The way I view it, there are three main reasons to turn our focus and begin investing in Ohio’s energy future. Not only does the transition into renewable energy translate into more job opportunities and economic diversity, it also is cost effective for our citizens and ultimately improves the day-to-day quality of life.

In Franklin County alone, approximately 12,703 of our jobs are in the renewable energy and energy efficiency fields with 12.3 percent of those jobs belonging to our veterans. This number would be expected to grow as more companies seek to expand their sustainable business practices. Northern parts of our state benefit from consistent wind, while rapid advances in technology also make solar energy a practical and cost-competitive resource for much of our state. Additionally, academic institutions of higher education, such as The Ohio State University, are actively researching the next great energy innovations. Ohio stands ready to not only produce more American-made energy, but to take the lead in establishing more alternative practices.

American Electric Power (AEP) on September 19, 2018 took their first step toward developing 900 mega-watts of renewable resources in Ohio. This manifests into $173 million in net benefits to Ohio consumers, according to a long-term forecast with state regulators. AEP Ohio has begun work on developing a solar manufacturing economy in the state’s Appalachian region, but their expansion of resources and jobs spans across the entire state. Data from the company shows there is a high demand for additional renewable generation in the state, and I believe we can give these companies the tools to deliver on that demand.

Currently, Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base already employs energy efficiency measures that save taxpayers millions of dollars per year. In 2016, the National Museum of the United States Air Force opened its fourth building, which has an energy consumption reduction of 74 percent with an annual energy costs savings of over $130,000. Implementing these practices, even on a smaller scale, have shown to reduce overall consumption and cost of energy. With the abundance of natural resources that already exist in the state, it feels nonsensical to not at least explore our alternatives in the energy market.

Moving towards non-combustion-based electricity generating technology also would have tremendous benefits and impact for our air quality, public health and greenhouse gas emissions. Wind and solar energy have both been linked to these, and Ohio is only narrowly above the national average for air quality. In 2017. Ohio ranked as one of the worst states in terms of air pollution in the country according to a United Health Foundation study. This is a problem that needs to be addressed, and I believe renewable energy practices can help reduce our pollution levels.

Finally, Ohio’s energy policy has very real national security implications as well. The Department of Defense is the number one consumer of energy in the United States. Top military leaders recognize that alternative forms of energy, in addition to our current forms of energy, are crucial to the continued supremacy of the United States military. Diversification in our energy grid can lead to more security and protection against outside threats.

In recognition of National Clean Energy Week, I encourage those unfamiliar to educate themselves about how clean and renewable energy can play a vital role in Ohio’s energy future. The world is rapidly changing and it is our responsibility not only as Americans, but as Ohioans and members of society to fund and research practices that will benefit our communities.