Full Title: Clean Jobs Ohio: Sizing Up Ohio’s Clean Energy Jobs Base and It’s Potential
Author(s): Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2)
Publisher(s): Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2)
Publication Date: 05/2015
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The 2008 passage of Ohio’s landmark clean energy standards (S.B. 221) marked a turning point in Ohio’s economy. In the wake of the standards to cut energy waste by 22 percent and shift at least 12 percent of the state’s electricity to solar, wind and other clean energy sources, Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors boomed. Shuttered or struggling factories from Canton to Toledo were reopened and revitalized to make solar panels and parts for wind turbines. Clean energy companies began hiring out-of-work Ohioans at a record pace, even amid the nation’s worst recession in recent history. Ohio quickly became the No. 2 state in the country for solar panel production. Wind and solar companies from around the globe opened offices in the state and broke ground on major wind farms in places like Champaign and Somerset counties and built major solar arrays on vacant former brownfield projects near Cleveland. The economic benefits have been far-reaching. Better energy efficiency standards have saved Ohio consumers and businesses more than $1 billion since the passage of the 2008 legislation, according to the state’s utilities.1 And as this report finds, 89,000 Ohioans had good-paying jobs at 7,200 business establishments in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean transportation sectors as of last year. 2 Today, many of those jobs – and Ohio’s continued growth in clean energy – are at risk. Since June 2014, when Ohio policymakers froze the state’s clean energy standards and created additional barriers to clean energy development, the state’s clean energy industry has been in a tailspin. After policymakers enacted S.B. 310 (which freezes the state’s energy efficiency and advanced energy standards) and H.R. 483 (which prevents the installation of many new commercial-scale wind projects) solar and wind companies that had relocated to the state are facing an uncertain future and could be forced to pack up and leave. Those that remain are growing at a much slower pace than a few years ago – if they’re growing at all. As this report shows, job growth in solar, wind, and other renewable energy sectors in Ohio slowed to only 1.5% in 2014. If not for the national economic recovery, even that miniscule growth probably would have disappeared. Those clean energy companies that are still growing are increasingly being forced to go out-of-state for work. Jobs at “local market” sales and installation firms grew by only about 1 percent last year, as opposed to nearly 8-percent growth at firms that focused on out-of-state markets, according to our research. Major clean energy companies and investors who once were clamoring to establish operations in Ohio are now avoiding the state and relocating to places that have better public policies.