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Clean Energy: Inflated job numbers do not help cause

Ohio has the second-highest number of renewable energy jobs in the Midwest (behind Illinois), according to Clean Jobs Midwest 2017, a collaboration between Clean Energy Trust, an investment group, and Environmental Entrepreneurs, a nonprofit comprised of business groups and investors. In fact, there are, according to the study, 105,443 “clean energy jobs” in the Buckeye State.

Impressive, right?

Let us take a step back. Before anyone gets the impression the authors of the study hoped for, it is important to delve into their numbers. There are 10,015 jobs tied to solar and wind energy in Ohio. The other 77 percent of the “clean energy jobs” touted in the study are “jobs tied to energy efficiency.”

Those include “positions in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning industry, as well as fields like advanced building materials and efficient lighting,” according to an analysis of the study results by the Springfield News-Sun. In other words, more than 3/4 of the jobs Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs used to pad their numbers have nothing to do with how clean the energy is, but with how much of it is used. Those are jobs that would exist no matter what fuel was producing the energy, because they help consumers save money.

Gail Parson, a spokeswoman for Environmental Entrepreneurs, lamented that Ohio saw only 4.6 percent growth in the number of clean energy jobs between 2015 and 2016. But she explained it is because “businesses are unsure of the future of clean energy in the state.”

In other words, without subsidies and laws that force baseless standards such as requiring one-fourth of Ohio’s energy to come from alternative sources — half of that required to be wind and solar — by 2025, companies are not sure those industries are ready to stand on their own.

Certainly Ohio, and all states, should be exploring the best ways to diversify their economies and energy profiles in a way that is affordable, environmentally sound and promotes job growth. There is no room in that process for companies hoping to profit on “clean energy” as a fad by making up intentionally misleading studies they hope will help their cause.

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