statewide tour shows off growing power of green energy

The ninth annual Green Energy Ohio Tour, held last weekend at 260 businesses and homes across the state, featured more than 160 solar, wind and green energy projects in Northeast Ohio. Yet while education was the tour's primary goal, it also communicated a critical, attention-grabbing memo to policymakers: This fast-growing industry is driving development and job creation in Ohio.

"With some of our legislators currently doubting the value of renewable energy, our tour sent a very strong message," says Bill Spratley, Executive Director of Green Energy Ohio. "The green energy industry is about creating jobs, and that seems to be one thing that resonates with this administration."

The renewable energy, energy efficiency and green design projects on the tour created or retained more than 2,000 jobs, according to the Ohio Energy Resources Division. In the first quarter of 2011, Ohio was also ranked number two among U.S. states in solar panel and wind turbine parts production.

Spratley says that large projects such as Lincoln Electric's wind turbine, as well as the growing number of homes and commercial businesses using solar panels to slash their energy bills, reveal an industry that's finally gaining traction.

"People now understand green energy, and they're going from 'curious' to 'serious,'" says Spratley. "We see people taking notes, particularly at solar homes, and then a year or two later I'll see them with their own solar homes."

Spratley added that Cleveland has "really stepped up" since the American Solar Energy Society brought its national conference -- and 5,000 people -- here in 2006. "People were very impressed with the enthusiasm in Cleveland," he says. "Now we have solar panels on Progressive Field, the Great Lakes Science Center, the Cleveland Musem of Art and many other locations."

Among the many Northeast Ohio projects featured on the 2011 tour were the Lincoln Electric wind turbine, Rockefeller Park Solar Demonstration, PNC SmartHome and Joseph McCullough Building at the Cleveland Institute of Art.

Source: Bill Spratley
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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