100% Ohio Made Energy
The surplus in natural gas, oil and other fuels has not only stabilized the energy markets but entire key industries that are so dependent on them, such as agriculture, manufacturing and freight transportation. This energy boom has not come without its faults, however, particularly in terms of safeguarding our environment and there remains much to be done to address these concerns.
Ohio is in a critical phase in this development and our plan sees more upside than downside in further extracting these resources and leveraging them so as to catapult the state onto the next level of power generation utilizing nothing but fully clean and renewable energy resources.
Natural gas can also be derived from bio-mass processes, including extracting methane from landfills and is referred to as renewable natural gas (RNG).
In fact, much more extraction could be done at this level while incorporating new carbon capture methods at these sites thereby further reducing methane emissions and being safer on the environment than drilling.
In 2015, the General Assembly came close to passing tax legislation on the alternative fuels industry which included natural gas and propane. The proposed legislation would impose a tax on the industry but would not start as burdensome. As the demand increased so would the tax over a scheduled timeline.
The tax revenue would flow into a separate fund, not the General Fund, and would remain there for expenditures related to the industry such as infrastructure improvements and remedial royalties to those communities directly affected.
My plan here is to revive that legislation, with some minor tweaks, and get it passed so Ohio can start using a portion of those funds for the planned transition away from fossil fuels.
Ohio needs to dramatically increase its solar power potential and it can do this by speeding up the application process, including siting requirements and addressing serious shortcomings in the approval process by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO).
Recently, PUCO denied a permit by American Electric Power to build a 600 Mega Watt solar farm in southern Ohio. AEP was requesting a small rate hike to finance the project and PUCO cited the hike as a reason for denial as well as stating that HB6 already supports solar power in the state.
This project would have benefited farmers by providing them with leasehold payments and could have created thousands of construction jobs as well as hundreds of permanent ones in rural parts of the state that need them most.
Large fleets, such as UPS, FedEx and a substantial number of large waste management companies are switching over to compressed natural gas (CNG) engines which burn cleaner than diesel and require much less maintenance than diesel engines.
These same companies are investing tens of millions to convert their trucks and build CNG fueling depots across the country. Reducing carbon emissions on a grand scale throughout the nation’s trucking industry by transitioning it over to CNG and liquid natural gas engines would greatly assist in that regard.
Public transportation running on CNG reduces the toxic fumes passengers ingest whether they’re taking the bus to work or school. There has been huge demand within the state for access to grant funding for alternative fuel development but legislation has languished in the General Assembly that could be making full use of these resources.
David-Besse and Perry, Ohio’s two single nuclear reactor plants are nearing the end of their useful lives and are running at a loss because they can’t compete with the cheaper natural gas-generated power. That’s why First Energy needed a bailout in the form of HB6, passed by the General Assembly and signed into law last year by Governor DeWine.
It is true the two plants contribute nearly $500 million annually to Ohio’s GDP and employ more than 4,000 people directly and indirectly. However, the two plants will eventually be shut, it is just a matter of answering the questions of when and how and what to do with the aftermath. A nuclear reactor core takes decades to cool so these plants will need to be maintained long after they’re turned off.
Northeast Ohio, as a result of Governor Taft’s Third Frontier program, is a leading research area for hydrogen fuel cell research that uses natural gas. Hydrogen fuel cells are going to be critical to transportation industries going forward affecting everything from automobiles to future space and lunar craft.
Liquid hydrogen is also the fuel of choice for heavy lift purposes and can be extracted from methane (CH4). Ohio has an enormous opportunity to provide the raw materials for these growing industries and use these resources to finance its own transformation.