Wind and solar industry jobs are playing a key role in creating Ohio jobs, according to a report released Wednesday by a Chicago think tank.
The Environmental Law & Policy Center, an environmental advocacy group, said the state has 106 wind-related companies that supply 7,500 jobs, and 63 solar-related companies that employ 1,500 workers statewide. About 20 of those companies are in northwest Ohio, although the report didn't provide employment numbers for those that are related to alternative energy.
The group spoke with companies identified in previous studies of Ohio's wind and solar industries and included firms that confirmed they work in, or supply business to the wind and solar markets.
Howard Learner, executive director of the policy center, said the group published the report in hopes of encouraging Ohio and federal lawmakers to support incentives and legislation that can help alternative energy companies. Those policies include Ohio's renewable energy portfolio standard and state grant programs that aid local alternative energy companies. "This is a huge shot in the arm for job creation and economic growth in Ohio," Mr. Learner said of green industries.
The group's report counts such companies as Toledo's Owens Corning, which has developed a fiber-glass reinforcement used by wind turbine manufacturers, as well as solar companies such as Xunlight Corp. of Toledo and First Solar Inc., of Tempe, Ariz., which employs more than 1,100 workers at its Perrysburg Township factory.
North Coast Wind and Power LLC in Port Clinton, which opened in 2004 and is on the group's list, sells small-scale wind turbines for residential use and assists with installation of larger wind and solar projects. The company has 10 employees.
Managing Director Tom Williams said northwest Ohio has been a prime location for the company to serve clients throughout the Midwest. He said other local firms, especially in the automotive sector, could benefit from retooling to do alternative energy work.
"Ohio is central to most of the northern states in terms of the demand for this sort of project," Mr. Williams said.
The listed firms included wind and solar industry suppliers, such as W. Drescher & Associates Co., a law firm in Sylvania that represents alternative energy companies, and Alignment Supplies Inc. of Maumee, a distributor of laser alignment and measurement products that are used by wind-power project developers and other industries.
Greg Knitz, president of Alignment Supplies, said the firm has six employees and about 25 contract sales representatives nationwide. He plans to hire another employee in the next three months. Alternative energy work has provided an opportunity for Alignment Supplies to grow, he said.
"The wind industry is one that is a high-profile target for us," Mr. Knitz said.
Crown Battery Manufacturing Co., which makes lead-acid batteries, has increased its business by selling batteries to alternative energy firms. The company, which reports annual sales of $180 million, has 425 employees in Fremont and 530 worldwide. The company hired 50 employees in the last few months, President Hal Hawk said.
Crown typically has worked with clients in the automotive aftermarket, marine, and golf-cart manufacturing markets, among other industries. Mr. Hawk said the firm's alternative energy sales will reach "well into the millions" in the next several years.
"We expect it to be a market that's really going to grow," he said.
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