Ohio's clean-energy economy accounts for about twice as many jobs as mining and logging, employing nearly as many people as live in the city of Hilliard, according to a new report.
That number -- 25,410 jobs -- is part of a report issued today by the Advanced Energy Economy Institute. Leaders of the trade group said they made the count to show the size of this part of the economy.
The authors say this tally is unique because it is based on a company-by-company assessment of jobs that involve renewable energy, energy efficiency or high-tech manufacturing. That is different from reports that use statistical models to estimate the totals.
"Ohio has the right ingredients for a strong advanced-energy economy, including our productive manufacturing base and history of innovation," Kimberly Gibson, executive director of the group's Ohio chapter, said in a statement.
The jobs are spread among 410 companies and 22 industry segments. The largest segment, with nearly 7,000 jobs, is building materials, which includes companies that make insulation and other materials for energy conservation. Another top segment is jobs related to heating, ventilation and air conditioning, with more than 4,000.
The total also includes 1,400 nuclear-power jobs, a category included because that kind of power leads to less pollution than that generated with fossil fuels.
Advanced Energy Economy Institute was started last year, and it has 11 state chapters.
Other groups have made their own estimates of "green" jobs in Ohio and other states. One of the best-known reports was from the Pew Charitable Trusts, which said in 2009 that Ohio had 35,267 jobs related to clean energy.
The differences come down to what jobs are included and what methods are used to count them, which can produce tremendous variation.
Gibson said the report shows that advanced-energy jobs are flourishing.
But there isn't enough evidence to know that for sure, said James Newton, chief economic adviser for Commerce National Bank in Columbus. He questions whether the 22 industry segments listed in the report have enough in common to be lumped together.
"I can't find anything anywhere to suggest this is an industry," he said "As best I can tell, this is some form of self-created series of employment opportunities that have been aggregated together by this trade association to show this is an industry."
The clean-energy economy is better viewed as a work in progress, said Bill Dawson, president and CEO of NexTech Materials in Lewis Center, a maker of components for fuel cells.
"I don't think the industry is really integrated yet," he said. "We all realize that we could benefit by working together."
If clean-energy companies can work together, it will yield tremendous benefits for the economy, he said.
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