• $13 billion in investments in wind, solar, geothermal and other energy projects over 10 years would be solely controlled by a secretive Ohio commission incorporated in the state of Delaware.
• The General Assembly would be strictly prohibited from influencing project selection and investments, or any operation of the Ohio Energy Commission Initiative.
• The spokeswoman for the energy issue, Evonne Richardson of Columbus, is a model, actress and burlesque dancer who also goes by Zulie Perfect, a fictitious name officially registered with Secretary of State Jon Husted.
That said, “Yes for Ohio’s Energy Future” is a step closer to getting its constitutional issue to a vote this fall with the approval yesterday of ballot language by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. While not assessing the content, DeWine ruled that the submitted language is a “fair and truthful” summary of the proposed constitutional amendment.
The next stop is the Ohio Ballot Board, which will determine if the measure should appear as one issue or multiple issues. If the proposal clears that hurdle, supporters could begin gathering the 385,253 valid signatures of registered Ohio voters needed to place it on the Nov. 6 general-election ballot.
The amendment would ask Ohioans to approve issuing $1.3 billion a year in bonds, backed by the “ full faith and credit of the state,” beginning next year and running through 2023. The bond money would be used for infrastructure, research, development and manufacturing of clean-energy initiatives.
“We don’t think we’re going to have any problem getting the signatures to get this through to the Ohio Constitution,” Richardson said. She said it is estimated that the bond issue, over a decade, could generate 300,000 to 400,000 jobs from investments in renewable energy. The jobs would range from positions for high-school graduates to those with doctorates.
Neither Richardson nor the four petitioners backing the issue have direct experience in the energy field.
Richardson confirmed that she is a model and burlesque dancer, but added, “I don’t see how that’s relevant. It’s not about us individually. I have a history of working as a political activist since I was 12 years old.
“There’s a lot of people behind us. There’s industry and grass-roots people.”
John Clarke, project coordinator for the renewables proposal, estimated it will cost $2.5 million for paid-signature gatherers and other expenses related to getting the issue on the ballot.
“A lot of the money is coming from the industries that are involved,” Clarke said. He cited First Solar, an Arizona company with a solar-panel manufacturing plant in Perrysburg, Ohio, as one contributor.
First Solar received $16.3?million in tax credits in 2010 from the federal stimulus program and last year got $455 million in financing from the U.S. Export-Import Bank for a solar project the company is developing in Canada.
Clarke said the Delaware corporation was set up because it offers tax advantages compared with Ohio and “anonymity” for financial backers.
State of Delaware Division of Corporations records show the Ohio Energy Initiative Commission LLC was set up on Jan. 12 by an agent, Harvard Business Services, of Lewes, Del. Harvard’s website cites anonymity advantages for incorporating in Delaware, including state laws that “shield the identities and personal information of business owners” and do not “require the names and addresses of LLC members and managers to be made public.”
The renewable energy issue website is: www.yesforohiosenergyfuture.com/index.php.