The Democrat who wants to unseat the Republican incumbent governor has laid out his energy plan for the Buckeye State. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports Ed FitzGerald’s agenda would undo some of the newly passed laws that he says weaken alternative energy standards.
Democratic nominee for governor Ed FitzGerald said when Republican Gov. John Kasich took office, alternative energy companies had brought 25,000 new jobs to Ohio and were ready to develop more here until recently.
"You have Gov. Kasich putting an enormous 'you are not welcome here' sign on Ohio when it comes to the new energy economy," FitzGerald said.
FitzGerald is critical of the law Kasich recently signed that puts into place a two-year freeze on Ohio’s alternative energy standards passed almost unanimously under former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland.
"We were helping to lead the country and now we are leading the country in a completely opposite direction," FitzGerald said. "SB310 was an enormous step backwards and it's going to have, I think if it’s not reversed, it's going to have dire consequences for this state."
FitzGerald said those consequences include higher energy bills for consumers and businesses. He said he would do what he needs to do to undo that law and another that puts restrictions on wind farms.
FitzGerald added that he wants to create new energy districts statewide that would allow communities to buy energy in bulk for better prices. And he said he wants to make sure any changes that are made in energy don’t hurt coal dependent areas of the state.
"If you are going to take actions, regulatory actions that are going to have a significant economic effect, you can’t leave the populations that are economically dependent on current industry hanging," he said.
FitzGerald says the state needs to shift any revenue from energy to those impacted areas of the state, not use that money to provide income tax cuts to Ohio’s wealthiest citizens as he says is now being done.
In a written statement, Chris Shrimpf, a spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party, said FitzGerald’s energy plan completely ignores Ohio’s booming natural gas industry -- he said Ohio’s production of natural gas has doubled in the past year.
Schrimpf added that FitzGerald’s plan is “nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to raise funds from the same people who fund the out-of-state environmental extremist groups who’ve opposed Ohio’s booming natural gas jobs.”