Following the 2012 elections, the Republican Party released a report saying the GOP should be synonymous with the “Growth and Opportunity Party”. Now more than ever, conservatives have the opportunity to drive the debate about responsible, all-of-the-above energy reform. As Ronald Reagan once said: “Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.”
Ohio is blessed to have a plentiful supply of coal and natural gas. These have been integral to the Ohio economy for many years. But just as a financial advisor would tell you to diversify your investment portfolio, it’s important that Ohio diversifies its energy portfolio.
A recent study found that over 100,000 Ohioans are employed by the clean energy sector. This figure is expected to continue to grow in 2016. These innovative, 21st Century jobs will position Ohio to lead the country as clean energy continues to become more popular across the United States.
Meaningful energy reform will allow families and small businesses to save money on their electricity bills. Clean energy has made tremendous progress in becoming more efficient and more cost effective over the past decade. A prime example can be found at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Over the past 5 years, Wright-Patterson has saved taxpayers over $1 million by implementing energy conservation projects. We can keep our country, and those who serve to protect it, safe by relying less on foreign oil and shifting our focus to making America energy independent.
As conservatives, we believe we should not be beholden to the government. Ohio cannot wait for the federal government to dictate policy to the states. Rather, the states should pursue energy policies most beneficial to its citizens. By allowing and encouraging net metering, Ohioans will have the opportunity to generate their own power. Ohioans will then be able to sell back excess generation to the grid while being in control of their energy consumption.
Additionally, Ohio is home to some of the brightest minds at some of our nation’s greatest universities. We should empower our students to control their own future and develop ways to continue to make clean energy cheaper and more efficient. Increased innovation will allow utilities to pursue “all cost-effective” energy efficiency and save Ohioans, as well as our armed forces, millions of dollars each year. Ohio should be committed to energy efficiency while maintaining the “industrial opt-out” that was introduced in S.B. 310.
Conservatives in Ohio should be in favor of creating common-sense renewable portfolio standards. A modest goal of 5% more clean energy in the next 5 years would be less than most RPS standards set by other conservative states. After 5 years, Ohio should be able to re-visit the issue and deem whether such a policy would remain necessary.
Conservatives can no longer allow the energy debate to be monopolized by the left. Recent polling shows that 70% of Ohio Republicans want to see the development and use of clean energy in the United States. Ohio has the capacity to lead the United States in clean energy by enacting common-sense, conservative reforms. Clean energy reform presents an opportunity for conservatives to grow our platform throughout the 21st Century.
Tyler Duvelius is the State Energy Director for the Ohio Christian Coalition and a member of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum Leadership Council.