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In Monday’s Los Angeles Times, I write about the migration of renewable energy firms from California and the Southwest to the nation’s industrial heartland to tap the down-and-out region’s manufacturing might:

At a recent solar energy conference in Anaheim, economic development officials from Ohio talked up a state that seemed far removed from the solar panels and high-tech devices that dominated the convention floor.

Ohio, long known for its smokestack auto plants and metal-bending factories, would be an ideal place for green technology companies to set up shop, they said.

“People don’t traditionally think of Ohio when they think of solar,” said Lisa Patt-McDaniel, director of Ohio’s economic development agency. But in fact, the Rust Belt goes well with the Green Belt, she said.

In years past, Sunbelt governors recruited Midwestern businesses to set up shop in their states, dangling tax breaks and the lure of a union-free workforce.

Now the tables have turned as solar start-ups, wind turbine companies and electric carmakers from California and the Southwest migrate to the nation’s industrial heartland. They’re looking to tap its manufacturing might and legions of skilled workers, hit hard by the near-collapse of the United States auto industry and eager for work.

For all of green tech’s futuristic sheen, solar power plants and wind farms are made of much of the same stuff as automobiles: machine-stamped steel, glass and gearboxes.

That has renewable energy companies hitting the highway for Detroit and Northeastern industrial states, driven in part by the federal stimulus package’s incentives and buy-American mandates.

You can read the rest of the story here.

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DANA POINT, Calif. — Have you driven a gas-guzzling planet-warming SUV lately? If so, it’s probably because gasoline prices have plunged in recent months and you’re more likely to trade up to a truck, Ford Motor Executive Chairman Bill Ford said Monday.

And he’s not happy about that.

“When gasoline went to $3.50 a gallon we saw a sea change in customer behavior,” Ford told Fortune Magazine managing editor Andy Serwer at Fortune’s Brainstorm Green conference in Orange County, Calif. “Now people are turning away from more fuel-efficient vehicles and taking the bigger vehicles.”

“I’ve been talking for five years now about the need for a gas tax,” he added. “We have to have some predictability on fuel pricing and that price signal has to be strong enough so customers” will continue buying smaller, fuel-efficient cars.” (Read more on Ford’s talk at Brainstorm Green.)

In other words, Ford Motor (F), General Motors (GM) and Chrysler won’t be able to kick their addiction to the profit margins that come from selling monster cars until consumers go cold turkey on cheap fuel.

Ford, who said he had been considered “something of a Bolshevik” in the auto industry for his early embrace of electric cars, said Detroit needs a floor under gasoline prices so it can make investments in alternative fuel vehicles.

“The worst thing for us is instability,” he said. “We need a much more stable planning horizon. That’s not just true for gasoline but for any fuel we use.”

Ford noted that when he joined the Ford board two decades ago he was told to stop “consorting” with suspected environmentalists. Times have changed in the car business.

“We haven’t had a lot of revolutions but boy are we now. I love it.”

Follow the Brainstorm: Green conference on Twitter at twitter.com/greenwombat and twitter.com/marcgunther.

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