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Published: Wednesday, 12/19/2007

Speaker pushes fund to advance clean power


COLUMBUS - House Speaker Jon Husted (R., Kettering) yesterday proposed creation of a fund to reinvest any income taxes generated by new jobs in the renewable power sector back into research and capital investment.

"We will be using their very investment to generate more investment ," he said. "You're not going to lose anything if you don't create an industry."

The speaker said he hopes to add the Ohio Renewable Energy Authority to a bill pending in the chamber that would map out Ohio's energy course for the foreseeable future. The bill, which calls for tighter regulation of electric utilities and goals for renewable and advanced-technology power, has already passed the Senate.

Mr. Husted said he hopes to pump about $10 million a year into a fund that would be used to leverage private investment in solar, wind, fuel cell, and other renewable sources. He does not envision nuclear or cleaner-coal technology in the mix.

Mr. Strickland's plan calls for utilities to find 25 percent of their power from advanced technology like cleaner-coal and nuclear or renewable sources. At least half of that benchmark must be met by renewables.

"The advanced energy industry is starting its boom right now, and economic leadership of that boom will be decided fast, just like leadership of the digital boom was fixed in Silicon Valley over a few years in the 1990s," said Norm Johnston, chairman of a consortium of companies called Ohio Advanced Energy.

His Toledo area company, Solar Fields LLC, is involved in a venture with German solar-panel manufacturer Q-Cells Inc.

Erin Bowser of Environment Ohio said Mr. Husted's authority is a good idea but won't mean much if the state doesn't create a market for renewable products by raising the benchmarks and putting teeth behind them.

"Twenty-five states have specific benchmarks," she said. "If businesses see the market, they're going to go there."

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