Ohio Legislature Attacks Solar Jobs

New Ohio Solar Job Numbers Demonstrate Economic Value of Clean Energy

Job data highlights Columbus and DC lawmakers votes against public interest

(Columbus, OH) – Today the Sierra Club released a new solar jobs report from the Solar Foundation. According to the report, Ohio is now home to 5,831 solar jobs, an increase of 21% from 2015. This includes 3,255 installation jobs and 1,002 manufacturing jobs. Additionally, Ohio outperforms our neighboring states in both the total number of solar jobs and the number of solar jobs per capita. However, the findings are not all positive.

Two of our neighboring states, Michigan and Indiana, experienced significantly larger job growth in the last year at 48% and 72% respectively. Furthermore, when looking at the solar industry nationally, Ohio’s solar industry is significantly less dominate – ranking only 25th for the number of solar jobs per capita. In addition, 34 states saw greater solar job growth last year than Ohio. Of those, 25 states experienced job growth at 40% or higher, nearly double Ohio’s growth rate. The findings demonstrate the enormous job potential in the clean energy industry in Ohio.

We also know that clean energy is also good for public health. Retaining our state’s Clean Energy Standards would result in significant benefits. Research shows that by 2027 Ohio’s Clean Energy Standards would preventing over 44,000 asthma attacks, over 4,000 heart attacks, and nearly 3,000 premature deaths among other health benefits.

“The findings of the Ohio’s job census highlight the opportunity Ohio has to create good paying jobs and grow our economy. Although Ohio is a leader in the region, we are at the middle of the pack nationally.” Said Kristen Kubitza, Energy Program Coordinator for the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Now is the time to embrace a 21st century energy policy, which is not only good for Ohio’s environment, it’s good for public health, good for Ohio workers, and good for Ohio’s economy.”

The effects of bad state energy policy have impacted the development of clean energy jobs. Past legislation (SB 310 and HB 554) and the currently proposed HB 114 send detrimental signals to business investors and create market instability. HB 114, like others before, would essentially repeal Ohio’s Clean Energy Standards. And to add insult to injury, HB 114 attempts to further prevent renewable energy development in Ohio by making it more difficult for Ohio’s utilities to to receive cost-recovery for renewable energy projects. The result is fewer jobs in the clean energy industry sector in Ohio.

“Ohio lawmakers constant attacks on Ohio’s Clean Energy Standards have been bad for clean energy businesses in Ohio. These attacks send cautionary signals to business investors which have resulted in significant cutbacks in investments. ” Said Al Frasz, Owner of Dovetail Solar. “These are real people, real jobs, real family incomes that have been cut, not just at my company but many others across the state.”

Attacks on clean energy are also being waged at the federal level. We expect President Trump to sign an executive order today to dismantle the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which sets the first ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants. Power plants contribute nearly 40% of all us carbon pollution. The CPP is expected to prevent 3,600 premature deaths and 90,000 asthma attacks in children by 2030. Additionally, the CPP will create an estimated $54 billion in public health and climate benefits by 2030. Furthermore, in his first budget proposal President Trump’s Department of Energy Budget proposes cuts to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy and eliminates the State Energy Program that provides funding for states. The outlook for US EPA is event bleaker with a number of climate programs completely eliminated or cut – including the Clean Power Plan, Energy Star Grant Program, and air quality grants to states, among many other cuts.

“President Trump has doubled down on his negligent disregard for the environment, public health, and even economic opportunity.” Said Kristen Kubitza, Energy Program Coordinator for the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Gutting the Clean Power Plan is nothing more than putting polluter profits above the public health of our communities.”

While lawmakers at the state and federal level are working to hinder clean energy investments, many cities are pursuing clean energy and energy efficiency which saves money for the city and taxpayers. Locally, Columbus had 661 solar jobs in 2016, an increase of 6% from 2015. Columbus is investing in solar energy sources including, a solar array at their fleet headquarters which produced 750,000 kwh in 2016, building LEED certified buildings, and converting public transit to run on electricity instead of fossil fuels.

“The City of Columbus is constantly looking to improve energy efficiency, reduce air pollution, and support strategies and policies that create jobs and reduce emissions.” Said Willie Overman, Energy Manager with the City of Columbus. “The City is excited to see the solar job numbers from the Solar Foundation. Columbus experienced incremental growth in 2016 and we hope to continue to grow this industry.”

The findings from the Solar Foundation demonstrate the enormous potential for job creation through renewable energy sources. Ohio lawmakers at both the state and federal level should be looking out for Ohioans and supporting smart clean energy policies that preserve our environment, protect public health, and create good paying jobs.

View the video of the press conference here: facebook.com/progressohio/videos

The Full Solar Foundation Report is available at: https://dev-brad.keva.la/tsf#states/solar-jobs/2016
Ohio State Fact Sheet is available at: http://www.thesolarfoundation.org/solar-jobs-census/factsheet-2016-OH/

About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 8 million members and supporters nationwide. In addition to creating opportunities for people of all ages, levels and locations to have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org/ohio.

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See coverage in http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170328/news-that-solar-jobs-are-up-in-ohio-comes-as-bill-weakening-clean-energy-progresses

Kristen Kubitza, MPA
(614) 634-1847
Kristen.Kubitza@gmail.com