COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio can revive its sinking manufacturing industry and decrease its dependence on carbon-emitting coal if the state requires a portion of electricity to be produced with renewable energy technologies such as wind, said a report released Thursday.
The report by the nonprofit group Environment Ohio calls on Gov. Ted Strickland and state lawmakers to bring a state awash in coal into a growing U.S. and world competition to attract new energy technologies.
Environmental advocates, labor representatives and renewable energy business leaders said Ohio cannot afford to continue falling behind in a movement that has seen 25 states enact a requirement for the use of renewable technologies to produce electricity.
Using wind to supply 20 percent of Ohio's electricity by 2020 would create 3,100 permanent full-time jobs and reduce carbon emissions by the same factor as taking 2 million cars off the road, the Environment Ohio report said.
Strickland, a Democrat, will soon release a wide-ranging energy plan that will update a 1999 law that made changes to the power industry. He views requirements for renewable energy as inseparable from a comprehensive change in energy laws, said his energy adviser, Mark Shanahan.
But some in the Republican-controlled Legislature, as well as some heavy lobbying groups such as the Ohio Manufacturers Association and utility companies, believe alternative energy should take a back seat to the more pressing challenge of reforming the electricity industry before it becomes deregulated on Jan. 1, 2009.
Advocates for renewable energy hope the environmental and economic benefits of energy from wind, sun and biomass will attract lawmakers with different viewpoints from both sides of the aisle.
"We believe this to be a great opportunity to put politics aside, not only to address electric restructuring and regulation but also advanced energy," said Tim Burga, chief of staff for the Ohio AFL-CIO.