A renewable energy boom in Ohio is all but inevitable, according to a new report that has support from major companies like Walmart, Procter & Gamble, and Owens Corning.
Authored by Synapse Energy Economics and the Great Lakes Energy Institute at Case Western Reserve University, the Powering Ohio report says the state can attract billions in investment by embracing clean energy by building on strengths such as industrial research and automotive manufacturing.
“This report provides concrete examples of how many leading companies, operating in Ohio, are making investments in clean energy and developing new strategies to support the transition to a lower-carbon economy,” Matthew Arnold, global head of sustainable finance for JPMorgan Chase & Co. wrote in the foreword.
In addition to JPMorgan Chase, the report’s advisory council included Owens Corning, Walmart, Eaton, Procter & Gamble, the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, GEM Energy, EDP Renewables, Whirlpool, and Ceres.
Ohio has the necessary components for major growth and can build on a strong foundation, the report says. The authors outline these key reasons:
- Manufacturing powerhouse: Ohio’s 15,500 manufacturers produce $106 billion of annual industrial output and employ more than 685,000 Ohioans, placing the state third nationally in manufacturing employment.
- Innovation: Ohio is home to dozens of corporate and federal research-and-development centers, and it has ranked tenth in the country in patents since 2010.
- Skilled workforce: The state graduates more than 20,000 science, technology, engineering, and math students each year and is home to 34 accredited engineering programs. More than 150 apprenticeship programs train Ohioans to be machinists, and the state supports over 11,000 registered apprentices in construction.
- Business opportunity support: Ohio offers a low cost of doing business, programs that support entrepreneurship, and a history of effective partnership between business and political leaders.
Nearly half of the Fortune 500 companies — and 71 of the Fortune 100 companies — have set targets to increase their clean energy use or reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their operations, the report points out. “The renewably powered data center investment opportunity alone is worth at least $6.2 billion over the next 10 years.”
Last summer, Facebook said that its 10th US-based data center would be located in New Albany, Ohio, and powered entirely by renewable energy. Sources like wind, solar, and hydro were critical to choosing the location, Facebook’s director of data center strategy and development said at the time.
Companies already leading the renewables push in the state include Whirlpool, which announced plans last fall for three wind turbines to power its manufacturing facility in Greenville. GM inked a deal to purchase wind energy from turbines in Ohio that are expected to come online later this year.
Corporate demand for clean energy is a growing market, and states like Ohio that allow customers to choose their own energy supplier are easiest for meeting company energy goals, the Powering Ohio report says. “Ohio can go further. It can help companies reduce energy market risk by reducing siting barriers so that companies can more easily pair stably priced in-state renewable energy investments with their local facilities.”