Three Questions on Sustainable Development: Goal 7 – Affordable and clean energy for all

We spoke with Shauni Nix, Founder and Executive Director of the Ohio Energy Project (OEP), whose mission is to inspire leadership and energy innovation in students and teachers. For over 35 years, OEP has supported thousands of schools, teachers and students with innovative science curriculum, materials and programs that spark curiosity about energy.

1014: In Ohio, how is the energy usage among residents and how could it be improved?

Shauni Nix: Sadly, Ohio is among the top ten states generating the most electricity and is in the top five states in total electricity use. In 2019, Ohio’s natural gas-fired generation exceeded the amount of in-state electricity provided by coal-fired power plants for the first time. Renewable energy resources generated almost 3% of Ohio’s in-state electricity generation in 2019.

A significant step in improving Ohioans’ energy usage began in 2008, when Ohio lawmakers passed Senate Bill 221. This legislation required that utilities use more clean energy and invest in energy efficiency, putting people to work weatherizing homes, helping Ohio manufacturers and businesses reduce their energy costs, installing solar panels and making the pieces and parts that go into wind turbines. As a result, Ohio’s electric utilities were looking at how to incorporate energy efficiency education in Ohio’s schools.
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OEP already had partnerships with many of the electric utilities in Ohio. As a result of the new regulations, OEP was able to take its programming to the next level. We worked diligently with AEP Ohio, Columbia Gas of Ohio, Dayton Power and Light, Vectren and Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives to develop and deliver the e3 (energy efficiency education) Smart program. This innovative program prepares educators to explore the science of energy efficiency in the classroom through hands-on labs and activities. Equipped with a kit of energy saving measures, participating students put their classroom learning to the test at home, connecting science content standards with real world experiences.

In an ideal world, what would be done to achieve the U.N. goal of “modern, affordable, sustainable energy access for all”?

We strongly believe that modern, affordable, sustainable energy access (“MASEA”) must be a priority for Ohio and the rest of the world.  OEP is working diligently to achieve the United Nation’s goal through education.  Everything that we do with teachers and students is helping them understand the importance of energy and its impact on the environment, economy and their lifestyle.  With our funding partners, we are providing the programs and tools to bring these ideas to life classrooms, homes and communities.  Increasing the energy literacy of our students will have a lasting impact on their attitudes and behaviors regarding energy production and consumption. Our goal is to teach energy conserving behaviors that our children will carry with them throughout their lifetime.  If we leap forward one generation when today’s students are the decision-making adults, what would we see?  That OEP has made a difference in how they make their energy decisions. Regardless of the characteristics of their lives - career, geographic location, or economic condition - the decisions they make about energy will be different than the decisions their parents made.  

For more than forty years, we have been aware of the negative impacts of energy on the world.  The impacts are enormous and have adverse effects on the most vulnerable, yet we still face these same issues as a society today.  Still, we spend extreme amounts of money, political and social energy debating the need for a new energy conservation program, or a need to accelerate the construction of low emissions generation plants, the list goes on and on.

If we spent even a fraction of that effort and money on educating our students about energy, we would avoid these issues and begin to solve these challenges. As our students become adults, they will be the decision makers and leaders, empowered to achieve MASEA and continue to innovate for a more sustainable path forward.

 

To find out more about the Ohio Energy Project, go to ohioenergy.org?

In an ideal world, what would be done to achieve the U.N. goal of “modern, affordable, sustainable energy access for all”?

We strongly believe that modern, affordable, sustainable energy access (“MASEA”) must be a priority for Ohio and the rest of the world.  OEP is working diligently to achieve the United Nation’s goal through education.  Everything that we do with teachers and students is helping them understand the importance of energy and its impact on the environment, economy and their lifestyle.  With our funding partners, we are providing the programs and tools to bring these ideas to life classrooms, homes and communities.  Increasing the energy literacy of our students will have a lasting impact on their attitudes and behaviors regarding energy production and consumption. Our goal is to teach energy conserving behaviors that our children will carry with them throughout their lifetime.  If we leap forward one generation when today’s students are the decision-making adults, what would we see?  That OEP has made a difference in how they make their energy decisions. Regardless of the characteristics of their lives - career, geographic location, or economic condition - the decisions they make about energy will be different than the decisions their parents made.  

For more than forty years, we have been aware of the negative impacts of energy on the world.  The impacts are enormous and have adverse effects on the most vulnerable, yet we still face these same issues as a society today.  Still, we spend extreme amounts of money, political and social energy debating the need for a new energy conservation program, or a need to accelerate the construction of low emissions generation plants, the list goes on and on.

If we spent even a fraction of that effort and money on educating our students about energy, we would avoid these issues and begin to solve these challenges. As our students become adults, they will be the decision makers and leaders, empowered to achieve MASEA and continue to innovate for a more sustainable path forward.

 

To find out more about the Ohio Energy Project, go to ohioenergy.org

This interview series was originally published on 1014.nyc and translated into German by the Goethe-Institut.

 

January 2021

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