Republicans need to champion, not stifle innovation


Steve Melink is the CEO of Melink Corporation, a Republican, national clean energy expert, author, and speaker. His company designed and built the Cincinnati Zoo solar array, which at the time was larger than all the other solar arrays at all other zoos in the country, combined. Melink was an outspoken critic of the Ohio Legislature’s decision to halt Ohio’s clean energy progress by freezing the state’s successful clean energy standards.


I’m a lifelong conservative, devout Catholic, business owner, and staunch advocate for clean energy. I’m also fed up with extreme politics.

Here’s why:

The Republican Party used to be about commonsense conservatism. It used to be far more holistic in what it wanted to conserve. Conserving our liberty and freedom, principles and values, and economy and environment used to be bedrocks of the conservative philosophy. After all, the root word of conservatism is conserve. And many of our greatest Presidents embraced this ethos ranging from Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt to Eisenhower and both Bush’s

Unfortunately, the only thing our new-fangled Party wants to conserve nowadays is big money. Our country was not founded on greed, avarice, and power. It was founded by merchants, farmers, and workers who aspired for a better way of life. And while economic growth has partly made us the great country we are today, our ideals are the foundation that makes us the greatest nation on Earth.

Big money and greedy politicians are the antithesis of what made our country great. And it threatens to be the downfall of not only the Republican Party as we have known it for 150 years, but our country if we do not stay true to the conservative principles and values that are most important.

I am witness to this almost every day in the clean energy industry. Instead of promoting competition and mitigating long-term costs and risks, the Party is opening its pocketbooks to those with the most money. Instead of promoting innovation and working to make the United States a leader in the clean energy age the Party is clinging to old energy sources and technologies, and repeating, word for word, the talking points of the coal industry.

In fact, at a recent meeting to establish the GOP platform, the Republican National Committee went a step further than even the coal industry is willing to go in defense of our reliance on coal as “an abundant clean affordable reliable domestic energy resource.”

This is complete nonsense. Coal isn’t clean or efficient, especially in comparison to newer technologies like solar and wind power. These so-called leaders should ask any well-educated student or career-minded millennial if they think we need more monopoly utility-controlled, centralized coal and natural gas plants or more distributed solar and wind farms. They will pick the latter almost 100% of the time.

These younger generations are demanding cleaner and more efficient ways to power our country. And nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come. Unfortunately, the Republican Party has its head in the sand and is fighting this unstoppable mega-trend of the future. Therefore, I ask my fellow conservatives: What side of history do you want to be on? Do you want your legacy to be one of propping up the fossil fuel industry’s rich and powerful magnates? Or helping create the greatest economic opportunity of the 21st century?

More and more conservatives are frustrated by the Party’s reluctance to embrace clean energy and the jobs and economic benefits it can bring to our communities. Recently, Mike Hartley, executive director of the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum, wrote an excellent opinion piece titled “Time for conservatives to lead on clean energy in Ohio.”

I ask that we heed this call. Some of the largest and most successful companies in the world are investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy, including Apple, Google, and Facebook. So are some of the largest and most successful colleges and universities in the world, including University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University, and Ohio University. So is the largest and most successful army in the world, the U.S. Army. So are some of the largest and most successful economies in the world, including Germany and Japan. So are some of the largest and most successful investors in the world, like Warren Buffet and Elon Musk.

The world is going to pass our country by if our leaders believe the millennials, and the smartest people and most successful companies in the world have it wrong.

If you’re a Republican who supports clean energy and innovation, now is the time to speak up. Tweet #RepublicanForCleanEnergy and let’s make our voices heard. This is a critical time for the Party and our nation and we can’t afford to sit on the sidelines.