Time for conservatives to lead on clean energy in Ohio: Mike Hartley (Opinion)

For decades, conservatives led the way protecting our natural resources. From Richard Nixon’s establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency to George H.W. Bush’s push for a stronger Clean Air Act or Teddy Roosevelt’s designation of the national parks, Republican leaders have been at the forefront of the country’s most significant policies.

Yet, when it comes to our energy future, we’ve allowed the debate to be dominated by the left. Not only has this fueled the hyperpartisanship we see today, it also has failed to deliver a comprehensive energy plan that creates market and protects our economic and national security interests.

Nowhere is this paradigm more apparent than in Ohio right now. For too long the two political parties have been stuck on opposite sides of the debate. The state legislature continues to debate the fate of Ohio’s clean-energy policy with entrenched views from continuing the freeze or outright repealing of the old clean energy standards on one side to full reinstatement or even stronger standards on the other side – typically, along party lines.
The bill would freeze renewable-energy standards for three additional years.

Ohio’s clean-energy standards have been frozen for the past two years – thwarting investment and development across the state. Were the original standards arbitrary? Yes. Does the state face a different set of factors now than when the standards were first established? Absolutely. Does that mean we should abandon a path to diversify our energy portfolio? No. These are real challenges facing Ohio and we need a sensible path forward.

That’s why the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum (OHCEF) was established. We believe in a genuine “all-of-the-above” approach to Ohio’s energy policy – one that recognizes our history while also committing to advancing clean and renewable energy and energy efficiency. Moving Ohio toward an all-of-the-above policy will create jobs, expand our economy, increase national security through energy independence, improve quality of life and leave behind a powerful legacy for future generations of Ohioans.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich and his fellow Republicans in the state legislature are fond of talking about the need to create jobs. But their decision to at least temporarily freeze mandates that were designed to boost the use of renewable energy is actually costing us jobs and other economic benefits derived from a fast-growing industry. Where is the sense…

A comprehensive energy policy that diversifies our electricity will lower systematic costs.
The goal of OHCEF is to provide a vehicle for individuals, organizations and businesses to join the conservative conversation about Ohio’s energy future. We believe that a comprehensive energy policy that diversifies our electricity will lower systematic costs by increasing our commitment to develop homegrown clean energy resources.

On the presidential campaign trail, we heard Gov. John Kasich restate his commitment to reinstate the right clean-energy policy framework and stop attempts to hold clean energy back in Ohio. He further went on to explain the importance of innovating and protecting our economic and national security interests. His administration has been at he forefront of lower taxes, attracting investment into the state and creating jobs. We see a clear and predictable energy policy as a vital component to foster a healthy economy for the state.
Gov. John Kasich chose a New Hampshire town hall meeting to warn Ohio GOP lawmakers that if they try to permanently gut the state’s energy efficiency programs and wind and solar requirements, the state will return to its original even tougher standards because “I am not playing around with this.”

If the conversation about Ohio’s clean energy future is to progress, we need to go beyond the debate about either continuing the freeze indefinitely or just reinstating the old framework. We need a new path. We need a policy framework that fosters innovation, encourages new investment and sets the right market signals. If we’re successful in achieving this, we can have a new policy that establishes an all-of-the-above generation portfolio, lowers the cost of electricity, creates jobs and makes Ohio an even more attractive place for businesses.

This is a huge opportunity for Ohio. Companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google are looking to locate facilities in the state. These billion-dollar investments utilize a lot of electricity and these companies want to power these facilities with renewable energy because it makes smart economic sense. An Amazon official who testified recently in Ohio about the state’s current wind setback policy said the only thing holding the state back is its energy policy.  We can create the right market-based clean energy policy framework that will attract these cutting-edge tech companies, strengthen our economy, control electricity costs and protect our natural resources in Ohio.

We’re at an energy crossroads. We can stay stuck in the past and slowly start to see our competitive advantage diminish and lose out on attracting 21st-century businesses or we can chart a new path that will create a stable future for our economy and generations to come. From my perspective, conservatives stand ready to embrace the future.

Mike Hartley is executive director of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, founded in 2015 by conservatives favoring an “all-of-the-above” approach to Ohio’s energy policy.

http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2016/06/time_for_conservatives_to_lead.html

RELEASE: OHCEF concerned about effect of proposed PPA on Ohio taxpayers

(Columbus, OH) – The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum today expressed concern with the PUCO’s approved power purchase agreements for FirstEnergy and AEP, saying it is counter to the work by the General Assembly and the Administration to create a better business environment and reduce tax burdens on Ohio families.

“State leaders have done exceptional work on behalf of Ohio businesses and families through income tax cuts, eliminating tax and regulatory burdens on small business, elimination of the estate tax, and other efforts,” said Mike Hartley, the group’s executive director.  “As a result, Ohio is a more predictable and more attractive place to live, to work, and to do business.”

Hartley said the OHCEF recognizes the unprecedented transition the utility industry is undergoing and does not want to see Ohio companies struggle.  The group also sees striking differences between the two decisions.

“While OHCEF has concerns about subsidizing uncompetitive power plants, we support AEP’s commitment to wind and solar, and their transition to energy diversity, security and reliability,” Hartley said. “AEP appears committed to transition to future with cleaner, cheaper sources of electricity; unfortunately, FirstEnergy seems content with sticking small businesses and families with higher electricity bills.”

By conservative estimates, FirstEnergy’s deal will cost 2 million Ohio ratepayers an additional $3.25 a month, or more than $400 million over the next two and a half years – but some analysts predict it could cost into the billions. Those ratepayers, Hartley pointed out, are Ohio’s small businesses that create jobs and drive the economy, in addition to individual households.  According to AEP, their deal will cost ratepayers about $200 million in the first couple of years – but some predicted it could exceed $1billion.

“This is a high price for Ohioans to pay to keep outdated power plants afloat when better, cleaner, more efficient options exist,” Hartley said. He compared the deal to the current alternative energy rider levied on ratepayers.  According to the Energy Mandate Study Committee report, the rider varies anywhere from 27 cents per month to $1.31 per month depending on the service provider – at least one-third the cost of the proposed power purchase agreement.

Alternative energy development helps put the state on a path to energy security and independence, and continued economic growth through energy innovation.  These are key reasons the OHCEF supports an all of the above approach to energy reforms and stands ready to work with AEP to advance Ohio’s clean energy future.  In contrast, there’s not much to work with in FirstEnergy’s plan.

“As conservatives, we’re advocating for common-sense solutions to energy security that reduce financial burdens on taxpayers while strengthening our economy and energy independence,” Hartley said.

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Statement from OHCEF on U.S. Supreme Court stay in Clean Power Plan case

(Columbus, OH, February 10, 2016) – Mike Hartley, executive director of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, issued the following statement today in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to grant a stay in the ongoing Clean Power Plan case:

“The Supreme Court’s decision to issue a stay until the legal challenges are heard should have no impact on Ohio’s decision to pursue a true all-of-the-above energy policy, including continued development of domestically produced renewable resources. Ohio must move forward.

“While Ohio’s conservative leaders have been suspect of the Obama Administration’s plan, we must not allow the Clean Power Plan delay to serve as an excuse to keep Ohio’s energy future on hold.  Such a move would be misguided and result in the state falling even further behind the rest of the nation. Now is the time to put in place the right clean energy policy that promotes energy diversity, security and advances our state’s economy through energy innovation.”

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OHCEF concerned about effect of proposed PPA on Ohio taxpayers

(Columbus, OH, December 8, 2015) – The Ohio Conservative Energy Forum today expressed concern with the recent power purchase agreement between FirstEnergy and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, saying that it is counter to the work by the General Assembly and the Administration to create a better business environment and reduce tax burdens on Ohio families.

“State leaders have done exceptional work on behalf of Ohio businesses and families through income tax cuts, eliminating tax burdens on small business, elimination of the estate tax, and other efforts,” said Mike Hartley, the group’s executive director.  “As a result, Ohio is a more predictable and more attractive place to live, to work, and to do business.”

Hartley said the OHCEF does not want to see an Ohio company struggle, but there are more innovative, forward-thinking ways to advance the energy industry in Ohio.  He encouraged state legislators to take a close look at the power purchase agreement.

By conservative estimates this deal will cost 2 million Ohio ratepayers an additional $3.25 a month, or more than $400 million over the next two and a half years – but some analysts predict it could cost into the billions. Those ratepayers, Hartley pointed out, are Ohio’s small businesses that create jobs and drive the economy, in addition to individual households.  The OHCEF recognizes the power purchase agreement includes energy efficiency and renewable energy provisions.  Unfortunately, these provisions are unenforceable.

“This is a high price for Ohioans to pay to keep two outdated power plants afloat, when better, cleaner, more efficient options exist,” Hartley said. Hartley compared the deal to the current alternative energy rider levied on ratepayers.  According to the Energy Mandate Study Committee report, the rider varies anywhere from 27 cents per month to $1.31 per month depending on the service provider – at least one-third the cost of the proposed power purchase agreement.

Alternative energy development helps put the state on a path to energy security and independence, and continued economic growth through energy innovation.  These are key reasons the OHCEF supports an all of the above approach to energy reforms. In contrast, the proposed power purchase agreement does little to advance Ohio’s energy position, rather it levies additional costs on Ohio taxpayers simply to maintain the status quo.

“As conservatives, we’re advocating for common-sense solutions to energy security that reduce financial burdens on taxpayers while strengthening our economy and energy independence,” Hartley said.

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Commentary:  Conservatives need to ‘hit the reset button’ on energy policy

M HARTLEYMIDWEST ENERGY NEWS, December 1, 2015

Commentary:  Conservatives need to ‘hit the reset button’ on energy policy

by Mike Hartley, Executive Director, OHCEF

Ronald Reagan said “What is a conservative, after all, but one who conserves.” He said it was our “great moral responsibility” to leave the earth to our children as we found it, or better than we found it.

As both a conservative and the father of two young children, I agree. We have a responsibility rooted in faith, economic realities, and the principles of good government to be stewards of this earth, so that it may continue to provide a strong quality of life for future generations. Stewardship is, in fact, a tenet of our Republican philosophy.

When it comes to energy policy, however, conservatives have been reluctant to embrace policies that promote this stewardship. In Ohio, we have allowed political rancor to polarize the issue. The result has been a freeze of the state’s clean energy standards in 2014 – standards that were established in 2008 with overwhelming bipartisan support.  (Read more …)

Ohio conservatives launch coalition in support of diverse energy policy for Ohio

OHCEF launch 1(Columbus, OH) – Members of Ohio’s conservative community gathered today at the Ohio Statehouse to announce the launch of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, a coalition designed to be a voice for conservative support for a common-sense, all-of-the-above state energy policy. The announcement comes as the Legislature considers updates to Ohio’s clean energy standards.

Mike Hartley, a seasoned conservative grassroots leader in Ohio, serves as OHCEF’s executive director. Hartley said that support for a diverse energy portfolio is hardly a new concept for conservatives. “Historically, conservatives have led our country’s efforts to protect and preserve our natural resources,” he said. “When it comes to the energy debate, the issue has become polarizing, and often dominated by the left. We founded the OHCEF because we believe an all-of-the-above approach to energy policy is key to the future success of our state, our nation, and our world.”

Hartley said that the group’s members respect the traditional energy industries that have made Ohio great, but also feel a responsibility to respond to a changing world with conservative values based in faith, economic realities, and the principles of good government.

The OHCEF is founded on a Statement of Principles that outlines support based in five areas:

  • Faith – Conservatives have a mandate from God to be good stewards of the earth, and to protect the health and quality of life for all His children.
  • Economy – Diversified energy sources protect consumers, the state, and the country from volatile prices of traditional fuels. Ohio is among the top 10 states in total energy consumption, and the cost of importing traditional fuel is a drain on Ohio’s economy. Alternative energy keeps money and jobs in Ohio, with advanced energy businesses employing more than 25,000 Ohioans and contributing billions of dollars annually to our economy.
  • National Security –Traditional fuel costs are set on a world market dominated by nations hostile to our country – America does not control production or consumption, and therefore does not control international pricing. In addition, American military spends billions transporting foreign fuel sources. It is in our nation’s interest to pursue energy security by diversifying energy sources, encouraging new technologies, and moving to domestic, cleaner forms of energy.
  • Public Policy – State leaders are writing the next chapter of Ohio’s energy policy right now. Conservatives need to speak up and participate in local, state, and federal energy policy deliberations.
  • Politics – Survey research shows all voters – conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans – see clean, efficient energy as our future. There is great support among all voters – particularly younger moderate to conservative voters – for pursuing advanced, clean, and cost-efficient energy solutions. Republicans and conservatives must lead on these issues to be relevant to future generations of voters.

The goal of the OHCEF is to provide a vehicle for individuals, organizations, and businesses to join the conservative conversation about Ohio’s energy future in pursuit of an all-of-the-above energy policy that lowers systemic costs by increasing commitment to developing homegrown clean energy resources and expanding energy efficiency.

Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition was on hand for the event. “The Christian Coalition of America has great concern about the recent trend of policy initiatives that seek to dismantle state renewable energy and energy efficiency standards throughout the country – including the current situation with Ohio’s energy policy and where appears to be headed,” Combs said.

Colonel Tom Moe, U.S. Air Force Retired, sits on the OHCEF’s Leadership Council. He said that from a military perspective, supporting energy diversification only makes sense. “It’s very simple – reliance on foreign oil is a weakness, economically, strategically, and militarily,” Moe said. We rely on other countries – some hostile to the U.S. – to fuel our nation, something that creates enormous military risk and costs. If these channels of transportation were to become unavailable, the world’s economy would crumble. This dependence puts us in a precarious political and economic position.”

OHCEF Leadership Council members Zach Upton, chairman of Ohio Young Republicans, and Christian Pancake, chairman of the Ohio College Republican Federation, noted the importance of clean and renewable energy to future generations of voters.

“If conservatives continue to sit on the sidelines of clean energy, we will lose this issue,” Upton said. “An entire generation of voters will tune out conservative elected leaders when they talk about energy. This is unacceptable to the next generation of Republicans and unacceptable for a strong future for the Republican Party.”

“Young Republicans and conservatives care about energy efficiency and they are starving for leadership from Republican leaders on this issue,” Pancake said. “The future of the Republican party, and conservatives, hinges on issues like these.”

The OHCEF Leadership Council is made up of Mike Hartley, executive director, OHCEF; Tyler Duvelius, Christian Coalition State Energy Director – Ohio; James L. Ervin, Jr., attorney and president, Ohio Black Republicans Association; Mike Gonidakis, president, Ohio Right to Life; Terry McClure, farmer, Paulding County; Colonel Tom Moe U.S. Air Force Retired; Christian Pancake, chairman, Ohio College Republican Federation; Brian Stewart, Pickaway County Commissioner; and Zach Upton, Beavercreek city councilman and chairman, Ohio Young Republicans.

For more information, visit www.ohcef.org.

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