Policy Matters Calls for ‘Entrepreneurial’ Energy, Union Jobs

Hannah Report - August 17, 2007

The Hannah Report

With Democrats and Republicans offering competing energy platforms this week and Ohio legislators seeing representation at a related policy summit in Nashville, Policy Matters Ohio announced the release of a national report recognizing energy initiatives in Ohio and other states.

The think tank is the Ohio partner of Apollo Alliance, a proponent of energy independence and job creation which this week published “New
Energy for Cities.” Funded by the Gund Foundation, the study focused on progressive energy policies achieved through local cooperation, singling out a number of communities around the state.

The report first laid out its four-part plan for marrying clean energy and economic development:

Invest in Renewable Power
“Generate 25 percent of electricity from clean, renewable sources, through policies and programs that prioritize local production, workforce development, and good jobs.

Create High-Performance Buildings
“Revitalize the built environment by renovating public and private buildings, lowering energy consumption, moving toward renewable energy, and creating good jobs and job training for local residents.

Drive Toward Energy Independence
“Reduce oil consumption 25 percent by 2025 by promoting efficient technologies and clean, renewable fuel alternatives through policies and programs that prioritize local production and good jobs.

Build High-Performance Cities
“Promote low-energy, high-performance cities and communities connected by regional transportation networks, through policies and programs that prioritize local hiring and good jobs.”

Specifically, Apollo Alliance defined its priority as “good-paying union jobs.”

Ohio cities recognized in the report for “entrepreneurial” energy include Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Canton. The Lucas County community led a coalition of ten municipal utilities in a bond package to
finance the state’s first commercial-grade wind farm, generating enough energy for roughly 6,000 people. The Bowling Green Utility Department also set aside a “green power” pricing program that earmarked money for solar energy development.

Cincinnati has targeted clean transportation from two directions, converting city buses to a 50-percent biodiesel blend.

“This increase will make the Cincinnati Metro one of the largest biodiesel users in the nation,” said the report, “consuming about 1.3 million gallons a year.”

The renewable fuel is manufactured locally from Ohio soybeans, and the city saves about $1 for every gallon of biodiesel purchased through an arrangement with its local supplier. Cincinnati and Hamilton County are also collaborating on a pilot project to reduce costs further by collecting waste vegetable oil from businesses and converting it to biodiesel for city and county vehicles.

“It’s an honor for Cincinnati to be recognized for our use of biodiesel in Metro buses,” said Mayor Mark Mallory. “We are saving money and we are supporting area business by buying the biodiesel locally. I’m also proud of our involvement in the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement …

“We’re working on solutions that will protect our environment, create good jobs, and reduce our country’s dependence on foreign energy.”

On a macro scale, the Cleveland Regional Transit Authority has constructed “exclusive bus lanes” connecting downtown to the residential east side.

“The 5.2 mile line runs through a formerly grand Cleveland neighborhood that has slipped into decline,” noted the study. “Planners anticipate the bus system acting as an economic catalyst for this area.”

The Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC), which has seen some modification in the signing of HB85 (Blessing), also selected “clean energy leader” Green Mountain Energy to service 400,000 customers in eight counties as part of “community choice aggregation.” The contract calls for two percent of the area’s energy supply to come from qualified renewable resources, and the other 98 percent from natural gas or “a fuel with an equal or lesser emissions profile.”

Canton is the site of one of the state’s more ambitious programs, in which the Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority upgraded a 30-year-old apartment building with a geothermal heat pump that has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 40,000 tons and saved taxpayers $29,000 annually.

“So cities can be models for saving energy,” concluded Apollo Alliance. “But just as important, cities can be models for creating good jobs producing energy, constructing high-performance buildings, and manufacturing clean-energy technologies. The manufacturing, construction, installation, and maintenance of renewable energy and energy efficiency systems will happen almost entirely in metropolitan areas. The physical infrastructure America needs to build these new technologies — factories, universities, and research parks — is in or near cities.”

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