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Clean energy goals must not stifle growth

Goals of reducing by 30 percent the amount of carbon emitted from the city of Warren within a decade by pushing new efforts at “clean energy” are ambitious, to say the least.

Combining that goal with a plan to add new jobs within the city limits makes the proposal even more lofty.

Earlier this year, Warren became the 12th community to join Power A Clean Future Ohio. The organization promotes itself as a nonpartisan coalition and campaign dedicated to working with local communities to develop equitable clean energy solutions to benefit the well-being of residents, the environment and the economy.

Warren is the first Mahoning Valley city to join the coalition that launched in February 2020. Others include Lorain, Lakewood, Euclid, Lima, Dayton, Cincinnati, Silverton, Bexley, Reynoldsburg, Lancaster and Athens.

The organization is working to try to get Ohio cities “to reduce emissions and develop local clean energy polices,” Joe Flarida, executive director of the coalition, said. It can provide technical advice and research for communities in reducing their energy emissions.

It all sounds good, and if the efforts are managed appropriately, experts predict it is possible that reduced emissions and new job creation can and will co-exist.

But, as we see it, participation in the work to reduce greenhouse effects must be voluntary, not forced, in order that none of these goals negatively impact potential business development. For years, Warren has struggled economically to keep business and lure new ones here. The city’s developers must be cautious about creating new hurdles for business.

Mayor Doug Franklin said he believes new waves of jobs will be driven by clean energy. In fact, the mayor believes joining this organization will put the city on the forefront of job creation, coupled with equitable solutions.

Using the new connections being made through this coalition, Franklin is hopeful the city will be able to reduce its carbon emissions significantly.

“We will be doing best practices to reduce emissions, including eventually changing our vehicle fleet from gas-powered to electric,” Franklin said. “We may not finish during my administration, but we will lay the ground work.”

Indeed, Warren and the coalition must stand ready to assist all existing and potential businesses.

Franklin said the city is willing to look at a variety of ways to help companies reduce their carbon emissions, including exploring energy-credit buybacks.

Indeed, discussions should be about providing energy choices to residential and commercial customers based on price, availability and reliability of services, especially in this energy-diverse state.

Warren already stands to benefit financially from its sale of water to the Lordstown-based natural gas-fired power plants soon expected to be doubled. The Lordstown plants operate utilizing new technology that lowers greenhouse gas startup emissions by up to 90 percent compared to conventional startups, according to reports. For a community located squarely atop the Utica Shale play and adjacent to the Marcellus Shale Play, much potential for local economic development stemming from the natural gas industry exists.

And with 200,000 Ohioans working in the natural gas industry, this coalition must stand ready to preserve these jobs.

Overall, Warren’s plan is forward thinking. But it must be approached with much care, consideration and caution.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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