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Rep. Owens says energy will be big campaign issue

Ryan Morden
Energy Masters founder Hugh Jones (r) discusses his solar panels with Rep. Bill Owens (D-NY).

Congressman Bill Owens says he plans to make energy a big campaign issue for this fall’s race in the 23rd congressional district. The Democrat made the statement Tuesday during a visit to Energy Masters, a solar panel manufacturing facility in Canastota.

He said ventures like Energy Masters are key to creating steady, good paying jobs and breaking our dependency on foreign oil. Owens argued the only way government can encourage job creation is with tax breaks. 

“If we fail to incentivize, we are will be unable to steer the ship at all,” said Owens.

His opponents on the other side of the ballot, Matt Doheny and Doug Hoffman disagree. For Doheny, the emphasis on energy should be on drilling for oil and natural gas on domestic soil and that renewable energy is only part of the solution.

Energy Masters founder Hugh Jones supports Owens’ view on creative incentives. He started his business 5 years ago in his garage and was able to grow his company because of government support.

He says the emphasis on renewable energy ventures from the state and federal are helping him succeed, where years ago, his peers failed.

”I can’t tell you how many people, good friends of mine, have not made it with reneweables," said Jones. "It’s not that their heart wasn’t in it. It’s just that there wasn’t that much interest in the private sector 15 years ago to keep a company going."

Promoting interest in renewables in the private sector will require new energy policy from Congress. But Owens isn’t optimistic that anything will get done before the November election.

Innovation Trail alumnus Ryan Morden is originally from Seattle. He graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's in journalism, minoring in political science and Scandinavian studies. Morden was Morning Edition producer and reporter at WRVO before moving over to the Innovation Trail project. Before landing at WRVO, Morden covered the Washington State legislature as a correspondent for Northwest News Network (N3), a group of nine NPR affiliates in the northwest.