This Tuesday, Ohio businesses came together with the Sierra Club to call for clean energy investments in Northeast Ohio. This event came as part of the Cleveland Beyond Coal Campaign, which is affiliated with the Sierra Club's national initiative to transition the United States away from the use of coal to a clean energy future based on conservation and renewables. First Energy's coal plants in Northeast Ohio are old and dirty; together they produce over 100,000,000 pounds of toxic air pollution every year.
At the event, Tremont Electric discussed their brand new patent for commercial scale electricity generated from the waves of Lake Erie and Akron based company, Lighting America of Ohio, talked about how their LED lighting 'systems' result in energy savings of over 90%. It is becoming clear that Cleveland and Northeast Ohio have the potential to become leaders in the clean energy industry.
There are already over one thousand businesses in Ohio that specialize in energy efficiency improvements that have been shown to drastically reduce the amount of electricity buildings use. In 2008, Ohio passed strong Energy Standards that created the impetus for our state utility companies to invest in clean energy and energy efficiency programs for their customers. Now, three years later, some of these companies are going above and beyond in creating a clean energy future for Northeast Ohio. In 2010, Duke Energy over-complied with these standards by 284%.
First Energy, however, is still dragging its feet on making these needed investments. On the issue, Aaron LeMieux, the founder and CEO of Tremont Electric, commented that "First Energy is perfectly positioned to not only provide their customers with clean energy while complying with Ohio's State Energy Standards, but to also create the manufacturing jobs their customers need".
According to a study done by the American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy, Ohio's investment in energy efficiency can create up to 32,000 jobs in Ohio by 2025. As First Energy increases their investment in efficiency and clean energy alternatives, more jobs in Northern Ohio will be supported in these industries.
Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins for Ward 14 also commented: "The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio needs to hold First Energy accountable for what our State law requires. Our electric utilities need to reduce energy demands and make investments in cleaner energy alternatives. To do otherwise delays Ohio's advancement towards a clean energy future."
This fall, the Cleveland Beyond Coal campaign gathered over 500 petitions, and created an ever-growing coalition of 15 businesses and organizations that want to see clean energy investment in Cleveland. The Public Utilities Commission has the authority and the duty to take a stand for our public health, the environment, and the economy and hold First Energy accountable for investing in the future of our communities.