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Environmental Groups Back Columbus Clean Energy Ballot Issue

The headquarters of AEP in Columbus, Ohio.
Ryan Hitchcock
The headquarters of AEP in Columbus, Ohio.

A coalition of environmental advocates are uniting to support a clean energy initiative that will appear on this fall's ballot for Columbus voters, saying it represents a larger trend across Ohio.

Issue 1, which was proposed by Columbus City Council in August, would allow the city to aggregate electric services among ratepayers with the goal of investing in clean energy sources.

Heather Taylor-Miesle, with the Ohio Environmental Council’s Action Fund, joins more than a dozen other environmental groups supporting the measure. She says more cities are taking action on this front, as state lawmakers roll back support of clean energy standards.

“All of them have been really leading the way because they realize you know this is great for the environment, but this is also good economics,” says Taylor-Miesle.

HB6, the nuclear plant bailout passed last year, also cuts Ohio's renewable energy mandates and eliminating the efficiency standards. HB6 is now at the center of a federal bribery court case, and the Ohio legislature is considering measures to repeal and replace it.

Columbus Council member Emmanuel Remy says that if Issue 1 passes, Columbus would be the "third-largest municipal aggregation in the country, the largest in Ohio and the Midwest." The city chose AEP Energy, which most residents use as their utility, as their preferred supplier.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.