LIMA — Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald said that Ohio needs to be more diverse with its plans on energy if it wants to continue to compete.
FitzGerald said Gov. John Kasich’s signing of Senate Bill 310 on June 3 will set back the state, costing Ohioans jobs and increased utility bills while being damaging to the environment.
While setting himself a far distance away from his Republican counterpart, however, FitzGerald has also set himself away from several members of his party on the issue of energy. Fitzgerald said he felt energy was too important of an issue to be politicized and said all of his decisions would be based on science rather than political moves. FitzGerald unveiled his own energy policy July 2. While his energy plan includes ideas popular with his party such as focusing on clean and renewable energy, his plan would also include maintaining traditional energy sources such as coal or oil as long as they were environmentally responsible. FitzGerald even went on to say he would back the development of fracking as long as it was environmentally safe.
As part of his six-point plan on energy, FitzGerald said his first line of business would be to repeal SB 310. In essence, the legislation froze the state timeline requiring utilities to find 25 percent of their power from renewable and advanced energy sources by 2025. He said he would take it a step further.
“We not only need to reverse SB 310,” FitzGerald said, “we need to re-ensure our partners our partners that were scared off by this legislation. The messages you send to the energy business are very important. This was not the right message to send.”
FitzGerald said Kasich could not kill the 25 percent plan, so he chose to kill it for two years. He said that investors looking to create renewable energy in Ohio were blindsided by the legislation. He said it sent the message that Ohio was not the place to go if you were planning to invest in clean energy.
While FitzGerald was favorable for energy sources such as wind, geothermal and solar, he said traditional sources could not be ruled out.
“We have to have a balanced approach,” FitzGerald said. “We have to weigh all of the factors. There are still emerging technologies that will bring down the cost of energy per kilowatt hour. It will be different five years from now. We have to be more broad-based on our ideas.”
FitzGerald said he also would like the state to encourage additional research in advanced energy while working to strengthen the coal, oil and natural gas industries in an environmentally responsible way.
FitzGerald said Kasich’s approach prevented the state from taking advantage of the Third Frontier, a taxpayer-fueled research and development fund aimed at investing in green-energy technology. He added that energy producers and other organizations usually more-conservative minded, such as industry, chambers of commerce, and the Ohio Manufacturing Association were not in favor of the bill.
“It shows how bad it was,” FitzGerald said. “We did a complete 180 turn. We can’t be see-sawing back and fourth.”
FitzGerald said he would also be in favor of creating incentives for companies reliant on traditional forms of power to begin researching and investing in green and renewable energy sources.
Chris Schrimpf, communications director for the Ohio Republican Party, responded to FitzGerald’s plan:
“In yet another of Ed FitzGerald’s daily imitations of the gang that can’t shoot straight, he completely ignores Ohio’s booming natural gas industry in his energy plan at the same one that we learn that Ohio’s production of clean natural gas doubled in the past year,” Schrimpf said. “All of the jobs, all of the revenue, all of the prosperity and all of the future growth from natural gas doesn’t even merit a mention in his so-called plan for Ohio’s energy future. It sounds like his energy plan is as well thought-out as his lieutenant governor pick that owed a million dollars in unpaid taxes.This is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to raise funds from the same people who fund the out-of-state environmental extremist groups who’ve opposed Ohio’s booming natural gas jobs.”