Wind could employ up to 22K Ohioans, group says

Research also says 3-D printing could emply 4,400

The wind industry and additive manufacturing may not seem to have much in common at first glance. But a research and advocacy organization says they both could be solid job generators for Ohio.

The wind industry in Ohio “has the opportunity” to employ an average of 22,000 residents annually over the next 15 years, while additive manufacturing — sometimes called 3-D printing — could employ more than 4,400 Ohioans over the same time, according to The American Jobs Project.

“That’s highly dependent on actions taken by policymakers,” said Mary Collins, a program manager with the organization.

The Oakland, Calif.-based American Jobs Project presented the estimates with the Great Lakes Energy Institute at Case Western Reserve University.

Those numbers are based on work by analysts using job-impact analysis tools commonly used by economists, Collins said.

This week, the Ohio Supreme Court voted 5 to 2 to uphold a state board’s decision to grant a permit for a wind farm in Champaign County.

The court sided with Ohio Power Siting Board and the wind farm’s developers, arguing that opponents to the project did not provide sufficient evidence to overturn the state’s initial decision.

Officials from Everpower, the developer of the proposed wind farm, told the Springfield News-Sun that the ruling is one more step toward building the wind farm.

If completed, the project could spread more than 100 turbines across several townships in Champaign County.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, there were 2,001-3,000 total direct and indirect wind-industry Ohio jobs supported in 2013, ranking Ohio 12th for the number of wind-related jobs.

But more than 69 percent of Ohio’s electricity is generated by coal, according to the Columbus-based Ohio Coal Association, a trade association for the coal industry in the state.

About 3,000 Ohioans work directly in coal mining, said Christian Palich, the association’s president. And for each of those jobs, another seven to 10 jobs are dependent, totalling 20,000 to 30,000 people, he said.

Palich declined to comment on the American Job Project’s employment findings.

But he said, “We represent about 18 to 20 (Eastern Ohio) counties, when it comes to employment for the region. And I don’t see too many wind mills when I’m over there.”

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