Generating Green Power, and Jobs, in Ohio

Ohio could generate some 2.2 million new jobs and stimulate an estimated $220 billion in economic activity by 2030 if government made an aggressive push to promote energy innovation, economist Roger Bedzek reports in a study highlighted last week in Cleveland.

The study, presented at the American Solar Energy Society's annual meeting, also provides the clearest analysis yet of how many jobs linked to renewable energy and energy efficient equipment currently exist in Ohio.

The green power sector already directly employs more than 208,000 people in the state of Ohio designing wind turbines, for example, or brewing ethanol. Another 503,000 in the state are indirectly employed manufacturing energy efficient products such as insulation, cars, and household appliances. In total, Bedzek's report reveals that the industry accounts for $50.9 billion in economic activity statewide.

Those are encouraging statistics for a state that has shed some 233,000 manufacturing jobs in the past 10 years. And progressive civic leaders in Ohio hope the report motivates the state Legislature to finally adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard, a regulatory policy that requires increased energy production from wind, solar, and other renewable sources.

To date, five Great Lakes states - Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, and Pennsylvania - have adopted an RPS or other voluntary goals to boost renewable power generation. Twenty-four states across the country currently have adopted RPS policies, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

But Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio have yet to formalize specific goals for deploying alternative energy. And forget for a moment curbing climate change and fighting terrorism with a smarter energy policy. Bedzek says the lack of leadership and inaction puts at risk Ohio's ability to generate jobs, stimulate high tech industries, and compete successfully in the global knowledge economy.

“Energy efficiency and renewable energy is a realistic target for job creation in Ohio,” says Roger Bezdek, president of the research firm Management Information Services. “They include many jobs that require associate’s degrees, on-the-job training, or trade certifications and which pay high wages.”