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Published: 5/2/2006

Energy discussion fuels Toledo town meeting

Supporters of energy conservation and alternative energy sources said at a town meeting in Toledo last night that Ohio continues to miss out on capitalizing on the budding energy businesses and it eventually will cost the state jobs and leave it with rising energy costs.

Janine Migden-Ostrander of the Office of Ohio Consumers' Counsel and Bill Spratley, executive director of the nonprofit agency Green Energy Ohio, said Ohioans can take advantage of energy savings techniques and equipment but lack the political and business leadership to move those things forward.

"Look around the world and you see we are competing with India and China for resources, and we see how energy prices have gone up," Ms. Migden-Ostrander said. "We need to be more creative and look at alternative sources. At the consumers' counsel [office], I look at alternatives to create affordable and reliable energy not only for tomorrow, but for 20 years from now."

Ms. Migden-Ostrander said energy needs, especially with the concerns about foreign oil, should be part of the national discussion. "I think the time to act now is imperative," she said. "Politicians need to spend more time and energy focused on energy issues and solutions. There are two parts to that solution: benefits that can be achieved from energy efficiency, and renewable energy."

She said reducing demand for energy through efficiency will help drive down its price. She said after the meeting at the Main Toledo-Lucas County Public Library in downtown Toledo that homeowners who lower their thermostats five degrees during peak times when they are not home could result in a 20 percent savings.

"We need to rethink how we use energy in this country," Ms. Migden-Ostrander said. "We need to rethink our energy portfolio. I think energy efficiency is part of the long-term solution as well as the short-term solution."

Mr. Spratley said individuals and companies nationwide are taking advantage of alternative energy sources of solar, wind, and biomass, but Ohio is being left behind by California and Pennsylvania.

"Northwest Ohio has a lot of natural resources that lend themselves to alternative energy," he said. "The impression I want to leave you with is that renewable energy works in Ohio today. This isn't something for the future. This is right now."

Mr. Spratley said 87 percent of Ohio's energy comes from coal, and much of that is imported from other states. He said because of Ohio's dependency on coal, it consistently ranks in the bottom of all states with regard to clean air.

He said Germany is one of the top countries in solar and wind power, and it is cloudier in Germany than in Ohio. He said he will push for wind testing to show Ohio has enough of it to support wind turbines.



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