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LTE: Columbus Has the Opportunity to Lead on Clean Energy

Rob Dorans Rob Dorans LTE: Columbus Has the Opportunity to Lead on Clean EnergyPhoto by Markus Spiske.
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Climate change is real. We have all watched in horror as wildfires this summer that continue to ravage the west coast, exacerbated by extreme temperatures and drought. We have also seen record-breaking hurricanes hit coastal states in recent years. While these weather events may seem distant, Central Ohio is also impacted by the effects of climate change. Columbus has had two of the wettest years on record in the past decade, which has led to severe flooding in our neighborhoods. Our summers are longer and hotter, causing school cancelations and economic hardship on families doing their best to stay cool.

It may seem daunting to find ways an individual can fight climate change, but this fall Columbus voters will have a once in a generation opportunity to do their part by supporting Issue 1. Issue 1 will allow the city to use our collective buying power to negotiate a better deal for energy for our residents and small businesses, but more importantly, this electricity will come from 100% renewable energy – such as solar and wind – from Ohio facilities.

Currently, when you flip on your light or charge up your computer, you are probably using electricity generated from a coal or natural gas plant. But through Issue 1, we can ensure our power is supplied through clean, renewable energy. We will also provide an advantage to Ohio businesses who can say that their products are being manufactured with 100% renewable power.

Columbus’ aggregation plan will be the largest program of its kind in the Midwest and will set a new standard for what cities can achieve by setting aggressive renewable energy goals – 100% clean energy by 2022. Columbus can also lay the roadmap for how to get there by using Ohio workers, and Ohio clean energy facilities.

We should all view 100% renewable energy consumption as a worthy and ambitious goal, and the facts show us it is possible. The U.S. Energy Information Administration found that in 2019, renewable energy consumption surpassed coal for the first time in over 130 years. Furthermore, the Ohio Power Siting Board found that solar generation was, by far, the most prominent fuel supply being developed in Ohio. 

The Utility-Scale Solar Energy Coalition of Ohio recently painted a picture of what significant investment in solar projects could look like. A study it commissioned, through Ohio University, found that if the industry were to take an aggressive approach to development, we could see enough clean energy generation to power the equivalent of 1.5 million homes, create 54,113 construction jobs, and 618 operations and maintenance careers for the long haul. The economic impact would be $9.6 billion during construction and $6.4 billion ongoing for operations and maintenance of the facilities. These clean energy jobs are going to be created somewhere, why not here in Columbus and across Ohio? 

Columbus’ transition to clean energy will serve as a boon for Ohio’s economy while improving the air we breathe and the water we drink,  accountable to those who matter most – our city’s residents and small business owners. The program is designed to allow for any resident or business to opt-out if they don’t want to participate, and consumers can do so at any time, without any cost to them.

Columbus has the opportunity to lead on clean energy in Ohio this November, and become an example for the Midwest and the nation. Vote YES on Issue 1 for new jobs, clean energy, and a better Columbus.

If you would like to submit a Letter to the Editor, please email [email protected].

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