by J.D. Davidson
Saying communities in Ohio have been denied economic development and job growth opportunities because of energy issues, two Ohio lawmakers announced legislation Friday that would provide taxpayer incentives to grow energy infrastructure in the state.
Reps. Jon Cross, R-Kenton, and Jay Edwards, R-Nelsonville, called areas of the state “energy deserts,” and want House Bill 685 to promote the use of the state’s natural gas energy resource.
“We’ve been hearing from communities that are locked out of future job growth because of the high cost of energy infrastructure in the state,” Cross said. “These ‘energy deserts’ see limited job growth because there just isn’t the infrastructure in place to deliver energy at a reasonable price. House Bill 685 is a step in the right direction to address the problem and bring jobs and affordable energy to every corner of the state.”
The bill, which has yet to be assigned to a committee, would call for the creation of local “ENERGIZEOhio Zones” that would be designated as areas in need of investment.
The designation would allow natural gas infrastructure projects to receive tax abatements and speed up depreciation to lower the over cost of development, the sponsors said.
Also, the bill would allow the state to offer low-cost financing for projects and create a revolving loan fund that would allow local officials to facilitate pipeline easements.
The bill also calls for financial incentives to gas companies developing natural gas pipelines in the zones.
“I’ve heard from communities that are really suffering because they don’t have the energy they need, even though there is robust supply in the state and strong local demand,” Edwards said. “Energy infrastructure construction costs have just gone through the roof due to inflation. We can’t wait for Washington to solve our problems. The General Assembly needs to pass this legislation to help deal with these increases in costs.”
There are more than 26,000 natural gas producing wells across Ohio and 24 natural gas storage sites. There is also nearly 10,000 miles of gas pipelines in the state, according to the Natural Gas Solution.
“Too much of Ohio’s energy is being shipped out of state,” Cross said. “We need to keep it here in Ohio to ensure our businesses and citizens have access to affordable, abundant local energy.”
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “Jay Edwards” by The Ohio House of Representatives. Photo “Jon Cross” by The Ohio House of Representatives. Background Photo “Ohio State Capitol” by Steven Miller. CC BY 2.0.