Governor Ted Strickland made his State of the State speech today. While almost the entire speech was focused on education there were a few interesting nuggets relative to Ohio’s progress in developing green jobs.
"Over the last three years, Ohio has led the nation with 350 new or expanded facility projects in the renewable energy sector.
Take solar energy, for example. The Toledo area has become an international center for solar research and production, with more than 6,000 people working in the solar industry. First Solar and Xunlight (Zun-light) both launched major expansions just this past year.
All across the state we’ve seen advanced energy creating opportunities."
Later in the speech Strickland discussed Ohio’s efforts to incorporate energy efficiency requirements into new government buildings:
Together we took the school building program that Governor Taft and the legislature created, and we expanded it to fund hundreds of new and renovated school buildings. And our new schools are being built to efficiency standards that will reduce our energy costs for the life of the building. In fact, Ohio has the largest energy efficient school building program in the nation.
The Governor should be commended for creation of a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (Ohio calls it an "Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard"). His initial proposal was greatly improved upon in the Legislature. However, the rules governing implementation of the RPS seem to be currently stuck at PUCO after the Commission was flooded with comments on how to improve them. Without improvement we stand to lose the momentum gained through passage of the energy legislation.
The Governor also included Advanced Energy Grant Funding in the Job Stimulus package passed recently. However, the size of the grants ($250,000 for non-coal projects) seem to be too small to attract major new development to the State.
Is Ohio losing the momentum on attracting green jobs and economic development?
President Obama has made clear his priority is renewable energy, climate change and green jobs. Given Ohio’s importance in the election this seems like a perfect fit to start getting Ohio out of its economic crisis and create the jobs of the future. Unfortunately, the Governor included no new proposals or ideas for how to build on Ohio’s recent momentum in his State of the State address.
Many states recognize the huge changes that are coming as a result of climate change and energy. Unfortunately, Ohio lags these other states in developing and attracting the talent to truly lead in these areas. As purely anecdotal evidence, when I attend national conferences that discuss these issues I will sometimes be the sole representative from Ohio. Meanwhile the New England States and West Coast dominate these conferences.
Granted I don’t attend every conference in these areas, but Ohio has certainly not lead on renewable energy. It was the 26th state to pass an RPS. Ohio has not lead at all on climate change. Its efforts have been focussed on resisting rather than improving climate change proposals.
When the major policy changes on climate change and renewable energy are put forward, where do you think the jobs will go?