Thursday, May 24, 2018
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‘Clean energy’ plan called citizen-driven

Strategist says nonpartisan, private panel to pick projects

COLUMBUS — A mysterious clean-energy initiative headed toward Ohio’s 2014 ballot is a one-of-a-kind nonpartisan measure driven by a group of concerned Ohio residents, a strategist for the campaign said.

If approved, the Ohio Clean Energy Initiative would require $1.3 billion in annual investments over a decade in infrastructure, research, and development related to solar, wind, and other energy sources.

A private entity called Ohio Energy Initiative Commission LLC, a Delaware corporation, would pick eligible projects.

German Trejo, a spokesman for Yes for Ohio’s Clean Energy Future campaign, said the commission’s corporate structure makes it free of political influence.

“The positive side of having an entity that is not controlled by politicians is that we’ve seen the gridlock that happens every day in Washington,” he said. “We’ve seen the partisan politics that Republicans and Democrats play in regards to administering money, and sending state money to individuals that support their campaigns and so forth.”

The corporation would receive $65 million a year in operational expenses under the ballot proposition. Individuals involved in the endeavor are not traceable through Delaware business records or corporate filings with the Internal Revenue Service.

Mr. Trejo declined to name those involved in the corporation, saying he is not employed by them but by the campaign.

He said speculation that the campaign involves big coal, oil, or nuclear interests, billionaires, major corporations, or offshore entities is simply untrue.

“This is a truly citizen-driven idea, and not having the hand of politicians is very important,” he said.

Mr. Trejo recently moved back from Washington to Ohio, where he attended Ohio State University, to run the campaign.

One of his media companies is Battleground Strategies, which works primarily with Democratic candidates and causes. He helped run the successful 2006 campaign in Ohio to increase the minimum wage.

But he said the 2014 initiative is nonpartisan.

“This initiative is totally independent,” he said. “It doesn’t have any political ties to any of the current and past state legislatures or any current or past governors’ administrations.”

The effort comes as the state Senate is debating a major overhaul of Ohio’s clean energy standards, targets that major electric companies must meet for the use of alternative energy forms. A bill proposing changes to the standards stalled in the Senate before the holidays, and debate is expected to continue when lawmakers return in January.

Mr. Trejo said the ballot initiative is unrelated to that debate.

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