Ohio Environmental Council, January 24, 2014
Eco group points to growing wave of clean energy jobs, jabs at fossil fuel industries’ claims of future mega jobs from coal, shale gas
(Columbus, OH)—The Ohio Environmental Council is praising Ohio Governor John Kasich’s promise to include clean energy technologies in his forthcoming energy policy.
At the conclusion yesterday of a two-day energy and economic summit he hosted to help inform the development of a new energy policy for Ohio, Kasich praised energy efficiency and renewable energy as important parts of Ohio’s energy solution.
The governor also threw his support to helping manufacturers capture waste heat and use it to generate low-cost, low-emission electric power. “Cogeneration” emerged as a major energy goal for Kasich.
“Governor Kasich voiced the beginnings of a promising clean energy vision, and we thank him for that,” said Nolan Moser, Clean Energy Program Director for the Ohio Environmental Council.
“The Governor repeatedly recognized Ohio’s vast potential to capture wasted energy from industrial processes and turn it into clean electricity. Governor Kasich is showing real leadership on this long-neglected opportunity. We look forward to working with his team to collaboratively develop sound policy to build this clean energy resource as it will boost Ohio manufacturing and help clean the air.”
Cogeneration or “combined heat and power” is an efficient, clean, and reliable way to generate power and thermal energy from a single fuel source. It can greatly increase a factory’s operational efficiency and decrease energy costs. Because it enables manufacturers to reduce their purchase of electric power supplied by a utility company, it also reduces emissions from Ohio’s coal-burning power plants.
Studies indicate that Ohio manufacturers have the potential to generate significant amounts of electric power from waste heat that escapes through factory smokestacks.
Dubbed “The Ohio Governor’s 21st Century Energy & Economic Summit,” the two-day event was dominated by panel discussions relating to development of Ohio’s natural gas and coal resources. Only one panel was devoted to wind, solar, and energy efficiency.
While coal and, especially, natural gas supporters made grand promises about future growth and jobs from Ohio’s fossil fuels, the clean energy sector’s growing contribution to Ohio’s economy was addressed only briefly.
“For half a century, the coal industry has been slashing jobs in Ohio,” noted Moser. “This once mighty industry used to employ over 100,000 workers in our state. Today, that number has shriveled to a few thousand. Coal’s record of job creation on account of innovation is an abysmal failure in Ohio.”
By contrast, Ohio is experiencing a boom in clean energy and energy efficiency jobs due to its renewable energy and energy efficiency standards.
“While coal in Ohio continues to cut workers, clean energy jobs in our state has rapidly expanded over the past several years. Today, Ohio is the No. 2 wind component and solar panel manufacturer in the entire nation,” said Moser.
A recent report from the Brookings Institution counted 105,000 “clean economy” jobs in Ohio, 6th most in the nation. The “clean economy” jobs accounted for 2 percent of all jobs in Ohio. The reportcounted more than 2,700 direct jobs in the clean energy sector in Ohio.
“Ohioans have heard for generations about traditional fossil fuel industries,” said Moser. “The real emerging trend, though, is that wind, solar, and energy efficiency technologies are employing real people in real jobs right here in Ohio. With strong policy support, these jobs will only continue to grow.”
Kasich generally praised energy efficiency, which enables everyone from home and shop owners to farmers and church congregations to reduce energy costs through the installation of high-efficiency appliances and other energy-saving products and measures. The Governor’s remarks suggest that he may not seek major changes to Ohio’s energy efficiency standard, which requires investor-owned electric utilities to slow the growth of energy use by 22 percent by 2025.
As a result of the standard, utility giant American Electric Power ramped up its energy efficiency and demand reduction programs in 2009 and 2010. The efficiency investments are projected to save consumers and businesses $631 million in reduced bills and grow 3,000 new jobs through 2011 in Ohio.
On the other hand, Kasich suggested that Ohio’s renewable energy standard may be in for changes. The standard requires investor-owned electric utilities to develop or purchase 12.5 percent of power from wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources. Under the law, at least half of the power must come from renewable-powered generating facilities located in Ohio.
“Ohioan’s want an energy policy that works,” Moser noted. “Part of that policy already is in place, spurring investment and growing jobs. We’re glad Governor Kasich wants to explore expanded clean energy resources. But we do not want any dilution of current policies that are getting the job done.”
“When it comes to Ohio’s renewable and energy efficiency standards, it ain’t broke, so there is no need to fix it.”