Energizing Ohio’s Economy
Creating Jobs and Reducing Pollution with Wind Power

Executive Summary

Developing Ohio’s wind energy resources will advance Ohio’s economy. Clean, renewable and home-grown wind energy will help to make Ohio more energy independent, create jobs, increase incomes, and help to prepare our economy for a potential national cap on global warming pollution.

In this report, we use an economic model to evaluate the impact of increasing wind energy production to 20 percent of Ohio retail electricity sales by 2020, in comparison with continuing business as usual.

We find that wind energy can provide significant benefits for Ohio’s economy and environment. Accordingly, wind power and other renewable energy resources should play a central part in Ohio’s energy policy.

Wind energy creates jobs.

  • Diversifying Ohio’s electricity supply with 20 percent wind energy by 2020 would create an estimated net of 40,000 person-years of employment through 2020, or the equivalent of 3,100 permanent, full-time jobs. It would also increase wages paid to Ohio workers by a cumulative net total of $3.7 billion through 2020.
  • Harnessing Ohio’s well-developed industrial base to manufacture renewable energy technologies for export would provide additional economic advantages. For example, the Renewable Energy Policy Project and Policy Matters Ohio estimate that a national commitment to wind energy could create more than 13,000 wind turbine component manufacturing jobs in Ohio – more than in any state except California.

Wind energy creates economic growth.

  • Diversifying Ohio’s electricity supply with wind energy would increase gross state product (GSP) by an estimated net of $8.2 billion through 2020.

Ohio’s rural areas can benefit from wind energy development.

  • Landowners can lease land for wind farms, creating an additional income stream. Increasing Ohio’s use of wind energy could supplement landowner income with cumulative total lease payments of $200 million through 2020.
  • Developing Ohio’s wind power resources would generate on the order of $1.5 billion in property taxes (total through 2020) to fund education and other local government services, mainly in rural areas of the state.
  • Communities can maximize local benefits by organizing and financing their own wind projects, much like the Bowling Green wind farm.

Wind energy reduces pollution.

  • In total through 2020, wind power would prevent the release of:
    • 170 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, the leading global warming pollutant (equivalent to retiring more than 2 million cars from the road);
    • 470,000 tons of soot-forming sulfur dioxide;
    • 120,000 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides; and
    • 4,000 pounds of mercury, a neurological toxicant.

Wind energy can help prepare Ohio for a future cap on global warming pollution, protecting the economy from the rising cost of fossil fuels.

  • The growing urgency of global warming makes limits on carbon dioxide pollution likely for the future. As these limits are set, power from carbon-heavy fossil fuels will become more expensive – and investments in fossil-fueled power plants will become less valuable. Since power plants can last 30 years or longer, it makes sense to consider the impact of global warming pollution limits now.
  • In contrast, wind power and other renewable energy resources emit no global warming pollution, and will not be subject to price increases from future global warming policy. By diversifying its electricity resources with wind, Ohio can protect its economy from the rising cost of fossil fuels.

Wind energy could make up 20 percent of Ohio’s electricity consumption by 2020.

  • Ohio has substantial wind resources along the glacial ridges of central Ohio, across the farmlands of northwest Ohio, as well as along and off the shores of Lake Erie. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that wind turbines on three-hundredths of 1 percent of the land area of Ohio could produce 20 percent of Ohio’s electricity needs in 2020.
  • In addition to wind, Ohio has other renewable energy resources like biomass and solar energy that could contribute to a reliable electricity supply for the state. Ohio ranks 7th in the country in the availability of biomass stocks available at less than $40 per dry ton, according to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory – enough biomass to generate about 7.5 percent of Ohio’s forecast electricity needs in 2020. Solar photovoltaic panels on 1 million Ohio rooftops could produce almost 3 percent of Ohio’s forecast electricity needs in 2020.

POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

Now is the time to move Ohio toward a clean energy future. To make this future a reality, Ohio’s leaders should:

  • Adopt a renewable electricity standard of 20 percent by 2020. Ohio should require utility companies to obtain a growing share of their electricity from in-state renewable sources of energy, beginning in 2009 and reaching 20 percent of sales by 2020. The standard should focus on renewable resources like wind, solar and clean biomass – while excluding toxic sources of energy like trash incineration, and excluding fossil fuels.
  • Reduce Ohio’s global warming pollution. Ohio should pursue the cheapest carbon-free sources of electricity first, including energy efficiency and renewable energy, before considering proposals that would increase the state’s contribution to global warming. Moreover, Ohio should not allow any new coal facility to be built unless it includes carbon capture and sequestration, with verifiable and permanent carbon storage.