Clean Jobs Ohio presents an in-depth look at clean energy employment in Ohio. It’s based on data from survey research conducted by BW Research, a national leader in workforce and economic development research. Clean Jobs Ohio shows that while the clean energy sector is a significant employer in the state, SB 310’s freezing of the Renewable Portfolio Standard last year has forced companies to look out-of-state for customers. As such, clean energy falls far short of its potential to drive economic growth and add jobs, and lawmakers must act quickly to put better state and federal policies in place.


Clean energy – defined as renewable energy, energy efficiency, alternative transportation, and greenhouse gas management and accounting – is a significant cluster in Ohio, yet the Buckeye State has only scratched the surface of its potential, and due to SB 310 many of the existing jobs are at risk.


It’s clean transportation like electric vehicles that can travel from Cleveland to Cincinnati on a single charge or advanced biofuels grown from feedstock in rural agricultural communities.


It’s energy efficiency measures like improved insulation in our homes that keep us warm during Ashtabula County winters or windows that block the sun’s heat during summer in Dayton.


It’s managing and accounting for greenhouse gas emissions.


It’s renewable energy like the solar panels on the schools in our communities or the wind turbines on our farmers’ fields in northwestern Ohio.

The Ohio clean energy industry – defined as renewable energy, energy efficiency, advanced transportation, and greenhouse gas emissions management and accounting – employs 89,000 workers at more than 7,200 clean energy business establishments.


S.B. 310 has been detrimental to industry growth in Ohio, forcing clean energy businesses to go out of state to find new sources of revenue. Because of this …

For example, the report found that jobs at sales and installation firms that focus mostly on Ohio grew by only about 1 percent last year, as opposed to nearly 8-percent growth at firms focusing on out-of-state markets.

Ohio’s renewable energy sector, which includes industries like wind and solar, had a sluggish job growth rate of 1.5 percent last year, while energy efficiency’s job growth rate was 4.5 percent. The report noted that both below-average figures were likely attributable to market uncertainty stemming from S.B. 310.

It’s simple: S.B. 310 threatens clean energy job growth in Ohio. Unless state legislatures act quickly to strengthen the RPS, Ohio firms will continue to look out of state for business opportunities, and a major Ohio industry and its 89,000 employees will feel the effect.

Employs 64 percent of clean
energy workers in Ohio.

That’s 57,000 jobs.

Ohio ranks only in the middle of the pack nationwide when it comes to cost-saving energy efficiency. There are plenty of ways for Ohio schools, businesses, and homeowners to use energy smarter — and create jobs in the process.


Carrying out Ohio’s energy efficiency standard through 2025 means $5.6 billion in avoided energy costs, far outpacing the $2.8 billion in costs to implement the programs.

At Greg Smith’s energy efficiency company in Tipp City, there’s a jobs boom underway. “We’ve gone from one employee less than five years ago – me – to 47 employees,” Smith said. At schools and other government buildings, workers from Smith’s business, Energy Optimizers, conduct comprehensive building energy-efficiency retrofits. They install new temperature control systems, upgrade lighting, arrange power-purchase agreements with solar energy companies, etc.

Clients quickly realize financial benefits from these types of projects. In south-central Ohio, for example, an $870,000 project at the

“In my mind, this is the next Industrial Revolution.”

- Greg Smith, CEO, Energy Optimizers, USA


 Jackson City School District – which teaches 2,500 students at five schools – Energy Optimizers retrofits were expected to lower a $1 million energy bill by close to $140,000 annually. But savings ended up being much higher than that – almost $400,000 was saved after one year.

“If we can save a teacher’s salary or two by doing this, it makes sense,” Phil Howard, the district’s superintendent said, before the full savings from the retrofits were known.

Other successful projects Energy Optimizers has completed include: lighting retrofits at Barleycorn’s (a restaurant), the Dayton Children’s Hospital, and Aptalis Pharmaceuticals, and energy efficiency upgrades at Miami (Ohio) University and buildings owned by the City of Dayton.

Smart, state-level policies have helped Ohio’s economy become more energy efficient and create jobs. Smith said an efficiency standard requiring Ohio’s electric utilities to help customers save energy has been particularly helpful. The utilities offer incentives to “buy down” the cost of efficiency upgrades.

“The rebates are driving projects,” said Smith, who got his start in energy efficiency while working at Trane, the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning industry giant.

In addition to utility incentives, Smith has a tight business model. He guarantees buildings his company retrofits will hit projected energy savings – or Smith sends a check for the difference.

Politically, Smith identifies himself as a conservative.

“This is not what people think about when they think about conservatives,” he said. “But I think energy efficiency and renewable energy are important for conservatives and independents to take note of.”

Smith said promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy through legislation like Ohio’s Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard is in the country’s best interest, but that legislation was frozen in 2014, forcing renewable energy and energy efficiency companies to re-think Ohio investments.

In addition to ramping up the RPS in Ohio, Smith said strong implementation of the federal Clean Power Plan in Ohio and other Midwestern states is crucial to sending a strong, clear market signal that will attract innovative, growing companies – and their jobs.

“In my mind, this is the next Industrial Revolution,” Smith said.

–Environmental Entrepreneurs




















Melink Corp., based in Cincinnati, is an industry leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Founded in 1987 by Steve Melink, the company now has four separate businesses and its employees work across the United States. One business segment provides HVAC testing and balancing services to major domestic chain stores and restaurants including Walmart, Target and McDonald’s. This segment also provides construction and facilities services in Canada.

Soon after starting his business, Melink invented the first variable-speed controls for commercial kitchen ventilation systems. Since then, the Melink Corp.’s Intelli-Hood business has sold more than 10,000 units. The company’s controls have become the industry standard in hotels, hospitals, schools and restaurants, Melink said.

In 2005, for its new headquarters, Melink Corp. designed the first LEED Gold-certified office building. Melink’s headquarters is now LEED Platinum certified,

“Solar PV continues to grow rapidly across the U.S. while Ohio misses out.”
–Steve Melink, founder of Cincinnati-based Melink Corp.

Energy Star-rated with 99 out of a possible 100 points, and is energy net-zero – meaning it generates as much energy as it uses and making it one of the the world’s greenest building.

Melink also has a fleet of hybrid and electric cars. Soon after the 2005 construction of its new headquarters, the company started its Melink Solar business. Many projects later – including the solar canopy at the Cincinnati Zoo – this is Melink Corp.’s fastest-growing business segment.

The company’s latest venture is Melink Geo, which is being launched in 2015. This business segment will help mainstream geothermal HVAC systems in the commercial building sector. Melink’s goal of growing 30 percent per year is being achieved by expanding into new geographic markets and developing new technologies. For example, Melink Corp. is exhibiting its Intelli-Hood controls in Dubai, UAE and Germany, and applying for additional patents related to its next-generation design. Although Ohio’s solar PV industry is currently experiencing policy uncertainty, Melink’s solar business is developing several large projects in forward-looking states like North Carolina and Massachusetts. “Solar PV continues to grow rapidly across the U.S. while Ohio misses out,” Melink said.

–Environmental Entrepreneurs


have 1-9 workers


have 10-24 workers


have 24+ workers

From Navy SEALs and Air Force fighter pilots to Army soldiers and Marines, returning veterans are increasingly finding good jobs in clean energy.


Veterans understand the value of clean energy – for our economy and for our national security.


About 17 percent of new clean energy hires in Ohio are veterans.


Installations like Beightler Armory in Columbus and the Toledo Air National Guard Base have invested in clean energy and energy efficiency measures – saving taxpayer money and creating jobs.

Three years ago Al Frasz’s renewable energy company, Dovetail Solar and Wind, was humming along nicely.

The growing business employed more than 40 workers across Ohio. Dovetail had procurement specialists and a structural engineer in Athens, design teams in both Athens and Cincinnati, a safety manager in Toledo, and a team of installation technicians and project managers widely distributed across Ohio. All these employees were part of an expanding workforce helping to build commercial-scale renewable energy projects.

They collaborated on projects ranging from a solar array at an Air National Guard base in Columbus to a wind turbine in an apple orchard in Lexington. Back in those days, Frasz had plans to hire even more workers.

But then S.B. 310 was passed by the state legislature, and signed into law by Gov. John Kasich. Ohio’s successful renewable portfolio standard was suddenly frozen in its tracks. Dovetail’s business dropped sharply. The company began losing money. To keep it from going under, Frasz opened new lines of credit. He even pumped a large amount of his own cash into the business.

By 2014, Frasz’s business volume was a third of what it used to be, and he had to lay off half his workforce. At its post-S.B.-310 low point, just 22 people worked at Dovetail.

Frasz quickly realized that he had to realign his business model to focus more on where the action was: out-of-state. In addition to its five Ohio locations, Dovetail opened offices in Brighton, Mich., and Asheville, N.C., to take advantage strong renewable policies in those states. “Ohio is putting up roadblocks, while the rest of the world is moving forward,” said Frasz, noting that Dovetail has completed more than 350 projects.

More than 95 percent of Dovetail’s work used to be in Ohio; that figure has now dropped to less than 60 percent.

But Dovetail’s shift in strategy has paid off, and Frasz’s business has stabilized. By adding a few more workers, Dovetail’s workforce has inched back up to 26 employees. Frasz is looking to add more installers, electricians and logistical workers.

Frasz would prefer to do more projects – and employ more people – closer to home. He said building projects out-of-state is challenging. For example, to compete with local installers, he has to be more aggressive on his margins. Plus, travel, insurance and licensing expenses add to the overhead of working on out-of-state projects, Frasz said.

Even as Gov. Kasich and Ohio’s state legislature have seemingly turned their backs on the state’s clean energy industry, Dovetail does its best to remain loyal to businesses in its home state. Frasz sources as many of Dovetail’s components as possible from manufacturing companies based in Ohio, even though, thanks to S.B. 310, the ultimate destination of more and more of those Made-In-Ohio components is out of state, or even out of the country.

Still, consumer demand remains strong for more renewable energy in Ohio – even though state policy keeps many potential large projects from moving forward, according to Frasz. “Our Ohio residential business is growing as electric rates continue to rise and more homeowners seek to reduce and lock in their energy costs,” he said.

Ohio’s farmers are also embracing clean energy, he said. “They understand and are not afraid of the technology,” Frasz said.

Dovetail has completed more than 25 solar and wind projects on farms, many of which took advantage of incentives offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, Frasz said USDA renewables programs are underfunded, and when S.B. 310 had a chilling effect on renewables projects on Ohio farms, it was farm families and rural school districts (which often get increased tax revenue from renewables projects) that were hurt the most.

Along with his peers in the industry, Frasz is working to educate lawmakers on how smart policies in Columbus can grow Ohio’s economy, create good jobs and protect the state’s environment.

–Environmental Entrepreneurs



Breaking down clean energy and transportation employment by the six geographic regions established by The JobsOhio Network, this analysis finds that nearly 40 percent of the industry’s jobs are located in the Cleveland region. The Columbus and Cincinnati regions make up a significant chunk of the remaining clean energy and transportation jobs in the state–home to nearly 19 percent and 18 percent of workers respectively.

Northeast 9,241 10.3%
Northwest 35,328 39.5%
West 7,237 8.1%
Central 16,801 18.8%
Southwest 15,645 17.5%
Southeast 5,075 6.6%
Total 89,326 100%


For a copy of Clean Jobs Ohio, click here.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 8.39.55 PMReport from @e2org shows 89,000 Ohio clean energy jobs — but better state, federal policies needed now. #CleanJobsOH

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