Gov. John Kasich concluded his two-day energy and economic development summit having heard a multitude of voices on various topics concerning Ohio’s energy future and now aims to create a comprehensive energy plan for Ohio - one that will help businesses expand and create jobs, while keeping Ohio’s energy prices as low as they can be.
With more than 1,000 people in attendance, the summit included speakers and panelists from energy producers and distributors, manufacturers, conservation nonprofits, business associations, universities and colleges and research and development organizations throughout Ohio and other states. The administration plans to use the information gathered from the summit to craft a comprehensive Energy and Economic Development Policy, due early next year.
One of the major topics of discussion was the development of Ohio’s Utica Shale deposit. The undeveloped shale deposit covers most of the state and some predict it could hold more natural gas than the famed Marcellus Shale. Environmentalists across the country have been up in arms, protesting shale development because of concerns over the environmental impact from the process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by which the gas is extracted. Administration officials emphasized during the afternoon of the first day of the summit, which was devoted to shale development, that they believe it is possible to develop the shale fields in an environmentally sound manner. Multiple participants pointed out that fracking has been safely employed for gas development in Ohio for a long time.
It is clear that Gov. Kasich and his advisors see shale gas as not only a key part of Ohio’s energy future, but also as a huge opportunity for economic development and job creation.
The summit’s policy outcomes also could affect the development of renewable energy projects - projects that the administration of former Gov. Ted Strickland said would create manufacturing jobs. Currently, as established by Senate Bill 221 (127th General Assembly), Ohio is aiming to generate 12.5 percent of its power from renewables and an additional 12.5 percent from sources such as nuclear and fuel cells by 2025.
Gov. Kasich declared support for advanced and renewable energy standards throughout the first day of the summit, but also hinted that he saw room for potential tweaks to the standards. Some Republican lawmakers already have introduced legislation - Senate Bill 216 - that would eliminate the advanced and renewable energy mandate. But Gov. Kasich has maintained that he sees renewable sources playing a role as part of an overall strategy.
Along with advanced and renewable energy sources, participants also stressed that information technology increasingly will be a powerful force in energy stability. With the ability to better monitor, understand and control demand and efficiency, consumers can make better choices about their energy consumption.
The second day of the summit covered how educational outcomes can be better tied to business employment needs and two panels on the future of Ohio’s automotive industry and alternative fuels before breaking into concurrent panels to discuss possible topics for the energy policy. The day concluded with closing remarks from Gov. Kasich who made an impassioned call to panelists and the audience to continue working with his administration to develop the state's energy policy.
All keynote presentations, plenary panels and the four concurrent panels have been archived and can be seen online.