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Published: Friday, 4/30/2010

McNamara seeking jump-start of energy panel

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Councilman Joe McNamara called on city leaders yesterday to revive a committee that Toledo had 20 years ago to help lower electric rates but could now also develop a comprehensive energy plan for the city.

"The city of Toledo has invested millions of dollars in renewable energy generating assets such as a co-generation facility, a solar field, and a wind turbine," he said. "These assets could potentially generate more power than the city can use at the generating sites but there is currently no plan for what to do with the excess energy."

The Electric Franchise Review Committee stopped meeting before electric deregulation occurred in 2001 because it was assumed that deregulation would lower rates, Mr. McNamara said.

"But even after deregulation, electric rates in Toledo are among the highest in the state," he said. "However, unlike 20 years ago, the city of Toledo now owns millions of dollars in renewable energy generating assets, has municipal electric authority, and hosts a university focused on cutting-edge alternative energy research."

The city is spending more than $28 million at the Hoffman Road landfill to capture methane gas and pipe it to the wastewater treatment plant.

The methane gas, a natural by-product of rotting garbage, will be mixed with methane produced at Bay View to power turbines that generate electricity.

A solar field and wind turbines at Collins Park will also produce "green power" and energy credits.

"With the confluence of all these assets, it's important for the city to come up with a comprehensive energy policy to best utilize them, promote economic development, and reduce electric rates," Mr. McNamara said.

He plans to introduce legislation to re-create the committee with 15 members to form an energy plan for the city.

It would include nominees from the Toledo Area Small Business Association of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Associated General Contractors of Northwest Ohio, the Lucas County Improvement Corp., the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, the University of Toledo, the Northwest Ohio Aggregation Coalition, the Lucas County Board of Commissioners, the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, the Greater Toledo Urban League, Inc., Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc., the Lake Erie Western Alliance for Sustainability, the Toledo Area AFL-CIO, the Northwest Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the mayor of Toledo, and the president of City Council.



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