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Kasich jabs at renewable-energy lobby

Gov. John Kasich yesterday offered his most-passionate defense of his proposal to include cogeneration as an acceptable form of renewable energy in Ohio.

He did it by singling out wind- and solar-power lobbyists during yet another energy summit, this one hosted by the Washington-based newspaper The Hill at the Sheraton on Capitol Square.

“All those who are in alternative energy and renewable standards believe in a cleaner environment, and that’s just fantastic,” Kasich said. “But don’t lobby for your own industry to keep other industries out that result in a cleaner environment. And that happens. So if I’m in the wind or the solar industry, I’m not so excited about waste heat or cogeneration because I get a nice big fat subsidy. OK. That’s just not the way it ought to be, because our goal ought to be a cleaner environment, and whatever moves us to a cleaner environment ought to be a part of it. …

“I’m a little disappointed when people lobby, and totally in self-interest.”

Kasich might have been referring to ongoing testimony related to Senate Bill 315, which would allow cogeneration – essentially the capture of waste heat – to be used to meet the state’s energy-efficiency requirements. A previous Senate-passed bill would add cogeneration to the definition of renewable energy, making it eligible for renewable-energy credits.

Last month, Columbus lobbyist Terrence O’Donnell testified before a Senate committee on behalf of wind-farm builder EDP Renewables of Houston against the “unqualified inclusion of cogeneration in the renewable-energy standard.”

EDP Renewables built Ohio’s first industrial-scale wind farm in Paulding County last year, and O’Donnell credited the state’s renewable-energy portfolio established in Senate Bill 221 with helping the project. Kasich seeks to expand those standards.

O’Donnell, according to his prepared testimony, said: “This could result in drying up the market for renewable energy in Ohio and could pull the rug out from under companies like EDPR, who were attracted to Ohio and invested millions of dollars in development costs.”

The setup for the Columbus energy summit was geared more toward a discussion of the economic impact of shale drilling. Similar summits have been held in Ohio and across the country since expectations for tapping oil and gas in shale formations in eastern Ohio began to soar.

Highlights of the event, attended by about 110 politicians, their staff members, business leaders, journalists and academics:

• Kasich said shale drilling is an industry that “gives Mom an opportunity to get her 34-year-old son out of their attic and actually get a job.”

• Republican state Rep. Dave Hall of Millersburg said the state’s economic potential from shale drilling presents a “Beverly Hillbillies-Jed Clampett process.”

“You know the problem with what we had is, Jed Clampett was able to get his oil revenues and took off to California,” Hall said, carrying out the metaphor. “Our job is to make sure we keep (people who strike it rich in Ohio) here so they’re the individuals who spur the next wave of industry.”

• Republican Senate President Tom Niehaus said the state should take a “scientific-based approach” to proceeding with drilling, not “a hysteria-based approach.”

“And what I see are a lot of people trying to scare the hell out of people with misinformation, because they don’t have the facts,” Niehaus said. “I don’t think anybody in the industry gets up in the morning and says ‘What can we do to mess up the environment today?’  ”