Ohio in top 10 for clean-energy jobs
By Jamison Cocklin
Ohio was among the top 10 states in the country for clean-energy jobs in the second quarter.
The Buckeye State ranked sixth in terms of the clean-energy projects announced and the jobs that come with them.
From April to June, the state announced four new alternative-energy projects, with the potential to create 712 jobs throughout the state, according to a report released by Environmental Entrepreneurs, also known as E2, a Washington D.C.-based group of national business leaders who advocate for better economic and environmental policies.
As many as 37,409 jobs could be created nationwide as a result of the projects highlighted in each of the 10 states. Wind power, biomass fuels, solar power and geothermal power, according to the report, all have the potential to create new jobs in sectors such as manufacturing and public transportation.
But E2’s report also comes with a significant caveat. Much of the growth experienced in both Ohio and across the country comes from the rapidly growing wind sector, which has been adversely affected by a decrease in investments linked to an almost-expired federal tax credit, as well as high development costs.
Although it is not the first time the credit has neared expiration, if Congress fails to act soon, as many as 37,000 jobs could be lost throughout the sector nationwide, according to the report.
The growing instability and uncertainty surrounding wind power has led some Ohio development groups to focus much of their efforts on shale gas.
“We were making strong efforts toward wind, solar and fuel cells as early as 2008,” said Jacob Duritsky, director of business attraction for Team Northeast Ohio, an organization dedicated to regional economic development. “But as market conditions dropped off around 2009, we found that a lot of these companies were going to require serious subsidies and business development, which we honestly don’t have the capacity for.”
Although Ohio generates most of its electricity with coal, by 2025, at least 12.5 percent must be generated by renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power.
Duritsky said the state still remains an attractive option for alternative- energy companies. Its work force and a well-established base of manufacturers make it an attractive point for American development in the renewable energy industry, he said.
According to the National Resources Defense Council, Ohio has 2,100 companies — the fourth-highest in the country — in industries related to the manufacture of components for renewable- energy systems.
Furthermore, parts of western and northeastern Ohio continue to play a leading role in manufacturing and research and development efforts in the wind, solar and fuel-cell sectors.
Despite the state’s booming shale industry, many contend it will be of continuing importance to diversify Ohio’s energy portfolio as it exports about $1.5 billion each year by importing more than 60 percent of its power-plant fuel.
“Even though the sticking points make it difficult to get proactive in pursuing more-advanced energies, we still strongly support these sorts of investments,” Duritsky said. “There’s still a very strong pipeline of leads. We’ve done things well, our infrastructure, workforce and manufacturing base has been recognized by the clean-energy industry.”