Gov. Ted Strickland's plan to diversify Ohio's energy sources was received favorably in Toledo yesterday.
The proposal, announced Aug. 29, is to be released in its legislative form later this week, then go to the Ohio General Assembly for consideration.
It calls for 25 percent of Ohio's energy to come from advanced technology, although only 12.5 percent would have to come from solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy.
The other major component is a proposal to stabilize electricity rates after pricing agreements with utilities expire at the end of 2008.
"We're not under any illusion that electricity's going to be cheaper in Ohio. The question is how much and how fast [costs will increase after current agreements expire]," said the governor's energy adviser, Mark Shanahan, at the end of a presentation to about 60 area leaders at the University of Toledo's Clean and Alternative Energy Incubation Center.
Mr. Strickland's energy plan is being touted as a jobs program largely because of its potential to create new work through the renewable-energy sector.
Mr. Shanahan and others are touring Ohio to rally support.
The proposal needs grassroots allies because the admin-istration expects "an army of lobbyists" will try to keep the proposed mix of energy sources separate from rate proposals, Mr. Shanahan said.
The reaction was at least solid enough for Frank Calzonetti to conclude the meeting by saying it was a "love fest."
"It's obvious Toledo is a good place to talk about it," said Mr. Calzonetti, University of Toledo vice president for research and development.
The university has quietly become one of the nation's leaders in solar energy research.
Ohio, with its large population and industrial base, is the nation's fifth-largest energy user. And it is one of the least diversified energy users.
Ninety-five percent of the state's energy comes from coal-fired power plants or those that combust other fossil fuels, such as natural gas, that release carbon dioxide and other gases.
That kind of reliance is the reason why 27 states and the District of Columbia have adopted various forms of a "renewable energy portfolio standard," which mandates a more diversified energy mix.
Some call for renewables to comprise at least 20 percent of their energy sources by 2020. Nationally - and in Ohio - they make up less than 1 percent of the market.
Under Mr. Strickland's plan, Ohio would follow Pennsylvania's lead by including renewables in an advanced technology standard. That can include clean coal, which is largely conceptual right now in terms of developing plants that have few, if any emissions.
Ohio also would be the first to include nuclear energy in its standard.
Mr. Shanahan said the governor believes it is "irresponsible not to talk about nuclear" given the concern over climate change, although he said the administration recognizes "substantial hurdles" exist in the nuclear industry, such as radioactive waste and safety.
Nuclear opponents dispute the emissions-free claim, given the amount of energy needed to produce the cement, steel, and uranium fuel for the plants.
"I think it's fair to take production [of a facility] into account, but then you have to take that into account for all baseload generators," Mr. Shanahan said.
Carbon sequestration and other forms of clean coal research are in their early stages.
Under Mr. Strickland's plan, utilities such as FirstEnergy Corp. could get credit for nuclear production without building new reactors if their facilities have been modernized.
FirstEnergy owns and operates the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ottawa County and the Perry nuclear plant in Lake County, Ohio's only two operating nuclear plants.
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