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Published: Wednesday, 3/7/2012


Too good to be true?

Ohioans should be wary of a campaign called Yes for Ohio's Energy Future. It is backing a ballot proposal in November that would pay for $13 billion of clean-energy projects through the sale of public bonds over 10 years, without oversight by state lawmakers.

The campaign is sponsored by something called the Ohio Energy Initiative Commission, a limited-liability corporation chartered in Delaware whose directors are unidentified. The proposal includes a guaranteed $65 million annually for management fees.

Efforts to jump-start renewable-energy projects with public money can be worthwhile. But this one raises red flags, because of both its size and the determined anonymity of its sponsors.

One of the campaign's two spokesmen, Evonne Richardson, is a model, actress, and dancer. She is registered under a performer name with the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, according to the American Institute of Architects.

Eleven leading environmental groups in Ohio have denounced the initiative. Opposition also has come from the Ohio Business Council for a Clean Economy and the American Wind Energy Association -- groups that might be expected to support such a plan.

Secretary of State Jon Husted notes that the initiative would amend the state constitution. A spokesman for Gov. John Kasich said the governor knows nothing more about the plan's sponsors.

The group is authorized to circulate petitions. It needs 385,253 valid signatures from Ohio voters to get its proposal on the fall ballot.

The effort requires a leap of faith -- not in clean-energy technology, but in a mysterious out-of-state group that seeks carte blanche to spend billions in public money. Voters must insist on accountability.

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