Nan’s Energy & Environment Priorities

Nan Whaley

Building the Future in Ohio

Nan’s Energy & Environment Priorities

After nearly three decades of Republican leadership and corruption under Governor DeWine, Ohio is losing out to other Midwestern states when it comes to creating the good-paying, clean energy jobs of the future. States like Michigan and Pennsylvania are building more wind farms, deploying more solar panels, driving higher energy efficiency, and preparing for the quickly expanding electric vehicle market while Ohioans are stuck losing jobs and paying a corruption tax for failing fossil fuel plants, including one in Indiana. 

Ohio’s workers are the best in the world. We should be taking advantage of the skills of our workforce to harness the clean energy surge happening across the nation. But, to do so, we need a Governor who is focused on making that happen – not enriching their big utility campaign donors. 

Nan and Cheryl also want your bills to go down. Ohioans are understandably concerned about the affordability of their energy – from prices at the pump to monthly heating and cooling bills to their electricity costs. Ohio needs policies that will stabilize and reduce costs to families and businesses. Ohio has what it takes to drive our economy with new, clean and renewable fuels.  If we do not reduce our reliance on global oil, international events will determine our cost and supply and threaten our pocketbooks.  

Ohio deserves better. Nan Whaley and Cheryl Stephens have a plan to make Ohio the leader it should be in this sector and to lower energy costs for Ohioans. 

Reform the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) So Consumer Interests are at Its Core

The chief watchdog over Ohio’s utilities – the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio – is deeply broken and reforming it will be a top priority for the Whaley-Stephens administration. For years, the agency has been plagued with undue influence by the utility industry, a dynamic that started well before the HB 6 scandal. 

While we must fire the current commissioners, that alone will not solve the systemic problems facing the PUCO. We must reform how potential PUCO commissioners are vetted; how the commission operates and settles cases; and how it balances the interests of business, consumer and environmental advocates. We need deep, enduring reforms to protect Ohioans’ pocketbooks and ensure utilities have clear rules and high standards to which they must adhere in order to have the privilege to serve Ohio customers.

The Whaley-Stephens Administration will prioritize the following to reform and revamp the PUCO:

  • Fire the current PUCO Commissioners. The level of systemic problems and corruption facing the PUCO requires that we rebuild the Commission entirely to restore trust.
  • Appoint a Chair who will restore the public’s trust in the integrity of the agency and refocus the commission staff once again on truly regulating Ohio’s public utilities. Any commissioner or chair we consider for appointment must embrace both consumer protection and Ohio’s clean energy future. And Nan will insist on a top-to-bottom review of the entire corrupt agency–it is outrageous that Sam Randazzo’s hand-picked business partner is still at PUCO as its key legislative and policy lead!
  • Bring more public transparency and accountability to the process of screening and vetting applicants for PUCO appointments. All Whaley-Stephens appointees to the body that is responsible for nominating Commissioners, the PUCO Nominating Council, will be required to file a full financial disclosure and adhere strictly to the Administration’s ethics pledge. Longer term, we will push the legislature to change the composition and process of the PUCO Nominating Council so that it adds three new spots for a scientist, someone from an environmental advocacy organization, and a rural power advocate – all with a strong interest in the consumer point of view. In addition to stricter financial and personal disclosures for the Nominating Council and PUCO Commissioners, the Administration will also push to make all Council meetings and interviews open to the public.
  • Through commission appointments and staffing, tighten the requirements for settling cases to enable more inclusive processes and better outcomes for small businesses, low-income consumers, municipalities, and Ohio families. The rate cases and other proceedings of the PUCO directly impact what Ohioans pay on their utility bills. We must ensure that all stakeholders are able to engage equally in the process, instead of giving too much influence to the utility industry.
  • Within the first 100 days of the Whaley-Stephens Administration, we will establish The PUCO Integrity Task Force to examine the scope, status, and findings of the various audits and investigations into the HB 6-implicated utilities, as well as our own PUCO, its commissioners and its staff. This task force would make recommendations to our administration as well as the legislature regarding what further investigations may be needed, as well as recommendations to ensure a scandal of HB 6 proportions never occurs again.

Spur Innovation and Create Good-Paying Union Jobs in Clean Energy

Ohio’s history of innovation combined with our natural resources gives us a unique advantage in building the renewable energy jobs of the future. We built the last manufacturing revolution and there’s no reason why we can’t build the next, but Governor DeWine and decades of Republican leadership have seen us take a back seat to neighboring states like Michigan and Pennsylvania when it comes to building renewable energy technology and creating good-paying, middle-class union jobs. 

Ohio needs to make sure we’re getting our fair share of these jobs – and we can only do that with a governor who prioritizes these efforts – from zero emission vehicles to battery recycling and reclamation.

Nan and Cheryl will make Ohio a leader in cutting edge, clean energy manufacturing so that, once again, the future is built in Ohio. They will:

  • Increase investments and prioritize state spending on energy efficiency measures that will improve public and private buildings’ energy performance, improve indoor air quality, and lower energy bills across the board. Jobs in energy efficiency are by far the largest share of Ohio’s clean energy workforce, and many are in skilled trade, union jobs in heating, cooling, and weatherization. These are jobs that cannot be exported because the work is done in Ohio homes and businesses.

  • Work with the legislature to fully repeal the coal subsidies enacted by HB 6, and establish policies to ensure the workers facing closures of coal and nuclear plants are able to transition to jobs with living wages and/or union membership. We will also ensure communities facing fossil-fuel closures have guaranteed safeguards in place, like requiring enforceable decommissioning plans and transition payments, to ensure their tax bases and local economies transition for the long-term.

  • Set and implement a goal for 100% renewable energy supply for the Ohio government by 2030 using direct investments in new renewable projects located within the Buckeye State, consolidating agency power purchases into a single contract to take advantage of bulk purchasing, and purchase of renewable energy credits.

  • Direct resources to reduce barriers for minority-owned businesses working or hoping to expand into the clean energy sector.

  • Ensure at least 40% of state climate investments go directly to frontline communities most affected by poverty, climate impacts and pollution, in keeping with the national Justice40 Initiative.

To grow these jobs, as well as to stabilize and lower costs to consumers, we must increase the amount of clean electricity produced within the state, make our buildings more efficient in their energy use, and enhance healthy competition in clean energy markets. We must target programs at those communities most affected by poverty, climate impact, and pollution.

  • Work to restore renewable energy and efficiency standards and to change the current requirements for utility scale wind farms that have prevented investment in Ohio.

  • To attract the jobs and businesses of today and tomorrow, our Administration will direct appointees to the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) to create a welcoming investment environment for renewable energy companies that want to call Ohio home. All OPSB-approved energy projects will accelerate Ohio’s progress toward a cleaner, sustainable and climate conscious economy. And a new OPSB expedited permit review process will use sound scientific data to help Ohio make up ground lost by the corruption in the DeWine administration.

  • Advocate for establishing community solar standards so that neighborhoods across the state can increase access to solar power. This will create a new market for solar in Ohio, while expanding access to potential cost savings from purchasing local, Ohio-built solar.

Building Climate Resilient Communities

Climate change is having an increasingly negative effect on Ohio communities, from adverse public health impacts to increased repair and restoration costs after climate events such as tornadoes or floods. In order to make sure our communities are resilient to our changing climate, Nan and Cheryl will: 

  • Support home rule policies that serve as the foundation for local governments taking bold action to cut carbon emissions, reduce waste, and invest in bold renewable energy plans. Unfortunately, the autonomy and authority of local governments has been eroded in recent years by Republicans at the Statehouse, undermining cities’ ability to promote sustainable practices.
  • Work to secure Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funding for communities facing fossil fuel plant closures or reductions to fund transition plans and adjustment assistance for workers.
  • Direct the PUCO to commission a study on the impacts of climate change on our utility systems and develop plans to address those impacts.
  • Prioritize green infrastructure investments using existing state and federal funds to be better prepared for increased precipitation, extreme temperatures, and weather disasters.
  • Invest in clean and resilient infrastructure:
    • Work to improve rules regarding Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE)  so this financing tool can accelerate the deployment of energy efficiency projects and electric vehicle charging stations and extend the program to residential solar projects that balance rapid deployment of clean energy and consumer protection.
    • Secure federal funding and boost state funding for public transit in rural and urban communities, as outlined in our transportation plan.
    • Support the transformation of brownfields into accessible green space and sites of economic investment

Lead by Example

Finally, Nan and Cheryl understand that our state government needs to lead by example in order to spur innovation in our energy markets and to advance Ohio’s clean energy agenda.  Actions by the state government broadcast our seriousness of purpose to investment markets and to clean energy companies. Our commitments will show companies growing in this thriving sector that Ohio is the right place for them to invent new clean energy technologies, build out new production and create jobs of the future in communities across our state.

One of Nan’s first actions as Governor will be to issue an Executive Order that will:

  • Achieve 100% renewable energy supply for Ohio government operations by 2030 through aggregated power purchasing and renewable energy credits;
  • Direct state agencies to implement energy efficiency measures and improve indoor air quality;
  • Convert the state fleet to EVs and hybrid vehicles, with a preference with Ohio-built vehicles; and
  • Prioritize state investment in clean energy through JobsOhio, Third Frontier Commission, and the Department of Development.

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