By John Funk
Gov. John Kasich is preparing a top-to-bottom overhaul of the state's energy policies affecting everything from shale gas to power plants and energy efficiency.
The governor and his top policy mavens gave a preview to about 50 of the region's heaviest energy users, energy producers and companies involved in energy efficiency technologies Tuesday at the Greater Cleveland Partnership in downtown Cleveland.
"It's a pretty comprehensive energy program, which we have never really had before," Kasich said in an interview following the discussion.
The effort will require myriad tweaks to existing state law, and the administration is already working with key lawmakers to prepare a package of legislation that will makes changes in 10 key areas.
"It's comprehensive. It's good. And it starts us to really have an energy policy. It will be introduced in March, the middle of next month," Kasich said, with passage by June 30.
First among the 10-part package of reforms is shale gas.
The administration is preparing new rules that govern everything from well construction to mandatory disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing of shale, new payments that gas and oil producers will have to make to local governments.
Other major "pillars" in the policy package include:
Electrical generation and power transmission: Because low power prices are key to keeping and growing industry, the administration wants to help pilot new sources of power and connect them to customers in new "smart grids" that help minimize waste and increase efficiency. And Kasich wants to expand customer choice for renewable power.
The plan would also ensure there is adequate electrical power for the shale gas processing at facilities that will soon be built in rural eastern counties. And it would identity and fix transmission line inadequacies that are limiting renewable energy projects.
Co-generation: The use of waste heat from industrial processes such as blast furnaces to generate electrical power is one of Kasich's goals. Changes in existing law would allow electric companies to count such projects as meeting renewable energy or advanced energy mandates set down by existing state law.
The governor's aides said the administration does not intend to gut renewable energy standards, as critics have suggested he would do, though the details of how co-generation have not been released.
Alternative fuels: Kasich wants to help grow the use of compressed natural gas, or CNG, as a fuel for cars and trucks. His administration is assessing the conversion of all or part of the state fleet to CNG. The administration is proposing a revolving loan fund to help build a network of NG as well as biodiesel and ethanol fueling stations.