Ohio has a window of opportunity to create clean energy jobs and build back a stronger, more resilient economy. We need to start by immediately repealing HB6 and then start a discussion about an energy policy that aligns with the 21st century economy. As we look to recover from the pandemic and economic recession, let’s not leave Ohio clean energy jobs on the table, or worse, in neighboring states.
My company has designed and installed solar arrays across the country from Massachusetts to Hawaii. My first choice of course is to build solar in my home state, Ohio.
But when House Bill 6 passed — with a bailout for two nuclear plants, two coal plants and a rollback of Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable energy programs —Ohio lawmakers sent a message to clean energy businesses, like mine, that they should look to do business elsewhere.
Not all Midwest states are rolling back clean energy programs like Ohio. Many are even expanding them. Like other clean energy companies in the Midwest, our biggest market over the last year has been in Illinois where strong state policies on clean energy have led to significant job growth and economic development.
According to the 2020 Clean Jobs Midwest report, Ohio’s clean energy industry employed 114,000 workers at the end of 2019. These are red, white and blue jobs. Ohioans who work in HVAC and electrical, factory workers and construction workers. They build solar and wind power systems for our buildings and make our homes more energy efficient. Melink Corporation, headquartered in Cincinnati, currently employs about 100 people. This doesn’t count the construction crews on individual projects, like the 80 people we hired to complete a project near Wadsworth, Ohio this year.
Every day HB6 is not replaced with strong clean energy policies, Ohio risks losing more clean energy projects — and the jobs and benefits that come with them— to nearby states with more conducive policies.
In 2017, I spoke at the Xavier University Graduate Commencement. To prepare, I spent time reflecting on my career and my lessons learned as a 30+ year business owner. I advised the Xavier graduates about the importance of building a personal brand. Your brand is who you are when no one is looking. It’s about being true to yourself as well as others.
What is the Ohio General Assembly’s brand? Unfortunately, it’s greed and corruption because of HB6. Those who lobbied for this bill lied, cheated, and stole their way to passage. It’s time to reverse course and divest of our dependence on dirty energy. It’s time to grow our brand again as a state looking to the future, not the past. And the future is smart, clean, and renewable energy. The world is fast-moving in this direction and Ohio can either lead or get left behind.
Integrity is about what you do, not what you say. Ohio lawmakers need to repeal HB6 now.