Report Released Central to Green Jobs Debate

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A records request by The Columbus Dispatch revealed a report that said Ohio has over 31,000 green energy jobs, a number that Democrats say the state wanted to hide. 

The report, commissioned by the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) in 2012, was completed in February of last year. It showed a higher number of renewable energy jobs compared to a 2012 report by the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy that listed 25,000 jobs in the green energy sector.

Representatives Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) and Dan Ramos (D-Lorain) claim the state "suppressed" this report by the ODSA in order to pass S.B. 310, which put a temporary freeze on the state standards for renewable energy.

"I think there was intent to keep that thing hidden in a dark, musty cushion and not make it public for what was (at the time) one of the most contentious debates in the General Assembly," Foley said.

Lyn Tolan, spokesperson for ODSA, denied the allegations that the report was "hidden." 

"It certainly wasn't suppressed by us," she said. "The report has been out there. We have not received a request from any legislator asking for it. But, media outlets, organizations, and individuals have asked for the report and have received it."

Tolan said the report was flawed and the Agency did not want to bring "bad data" into the discussion on the state's renewable energy standards.

"The numbers just aren't reliable. The report itself said the numbers aren't reliable," she said. 

Tolan said the report included lawn furniture manufacturers, those who install broadband, and tree trimmers among the 31,000 green jobs available in Ohio. 

"While those are all important jobs, I think most reasonable people would say that is not in this alternative energy sector," Tolan said.

For Foley, this report is only the tip of the iceberg. The representative said the state's decision to put a two-year freeze on the standards is "embarrassing."

"I think that in itself, to the business world — the investment world, sends a damaging signal that you can't trust Ohio," Foley said.

The Energy Mandates Study Committee created out of S.B. 310, is scheduled to meet Monday to review the cost effectiveness of Ohio's renewable energy standards.