Columbus, Ohio [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] In an effort to join the strong state-based push for renewable energy, Ohio Governor Bob Taft announced a broad package of energy initiatives for the state that include a strong emphasis on both wind energy and biofuels. Wind power projects in particular would stand to gain a state-based production tax credit much like they enjoy at the Federal level.Taft detailed the strategies during visits to an ethanol plant site in Lima and a Cincinnati company that manufactures wind turbine parts. “Ohio family budgets and businesses have been hit hard by high energy costs,” said Taft. “As a leading manufacturing state, Ohio is deeply dependent on ample, reliable sources of energy. Our goal is to move Ohio and the nation away from our dependence on foreign oil and take advantage of our homegrown resources such as coal, natural gas, wind, corn and soybeans.” While visiting the Greater Ohio Ethanol, LLC plant site in Lima, Taft presented company President Greg Kruger and Lima Mayor David Berger with a $5.9 million check for state incentives including low-cost financing, Job Creation Tax Credit, Ohio Investment in Training Program funds and infrastructure assistance. The $80 million Greater Ohio Ethanol investment will create 35 new jobs and, at full capacity, will annually convert 20 million bushels of corn into more than 56 million gallons of ethanol a year. Taft arrived at the Greater Ohio Ethanol plant in a flex-fuel vehicle owned by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. During his visit, he announced plans to build on Ohio’s biofuel commitment by: — Doubling E85 ethanol use in the state fleet from 30,000 gallons to 60,000 gallons per year by January 1, 2007. After 2007, Ohio will increase E85 usage by 5,000 gallons each year — Increasing biodiesel use in the state fleet by 100,000 gallons annually starting in 2007. The state is currently committed to using one million gallons by 2007 — Purchasing only flex-fuel vehicles that can run on both regular gasoline and E85 ethanol blend as state vehicles are replaced. Ohio already has 1,710 flex-fuel vehicles — Tripling the amount of E85 pumps available to Ohio consumers by the end of 2006. Taft highlighted another element of the proposal in Cincinnati, at Magna Machine Company, one of approximately 25 Ohio companies producing wind turbine components. Taft’s proposal, a new pilot incentive program to encourage more wind power production in Ohio, would set aside $25 million from the Energy Loan Fund over five years and would provide a grant for up to 1.2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity produced by wind. The proposal requires legislative approval. “As the use of wind power expands and provides a new source of energy for our homes and businesses, it will be a growing source of jobs and investment for Ohio’s economy,” said Taft. “I look forward to working with the Ohio General Assembly to encourage Ohio businesses to incorporate wind power as an energy source.” In addition, Taft outlined strategies that would maximize on Ohio’s immense coal reserves and so called “clean coal” research and development to help create jobs and move the state and nation toward greater energy diversity and independence. Taft vowed to continue aggressive efforts to develop and execute state energy efficiency initiatives. He proposed using $3.6 million from the Energy Loan Fund, which supports energy efficient projects for residences and businesses, to invest in approximately 40 energy efficient projects for state government buildings in order to reduce energy costs. The state would then use the savings from these projects to pay back the investment and make long-term purchases of renewable energy. The Governor also proposed an Energy Standards and Reporting Task Force to report on state government energy use and efficiency. Finally, Taft emphasized the need to address obstacles that block the generation of power from local sources. At the direction of Governor Taft, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio held the first of four technical meetings in Columbus today to address how the state can promote small-scale power generation. First Lady Hope Taft addressed the panel to discuss the success of a solar power system in place at the Governor’s Residence in Bexley.