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Need solar power? There’s a list for that

From The Columbus Dispatch

Dan Gearino Nov 23, 2012


Need solar power? There’s a list for that

From The Columbus Dispatch

Dan Gearino November 23, 2012

Within 30 miles of Columbus, you can find two dozen manufacturers of solar-power components and a dozen companies that install them.

That tally comes from a new state database, part of an attempt to help companies in the solar industry work together and attract customers. The map, which can be seen at www.ohiosolarenergy.org, was put together by Ohio University and the Ohio Development Service Agency.

It shows nearly 300 companies across the state, from the very large, such as DuPont's solar-components plant in Circleville, to one-person firms such as Ecohouse LLC on the Far West Side, a solar-power installer.

Ecohouse owner Kevin Eigel sees these kinds of databases as an important way for prospective customers to find him.

"I'm all for being on the lists," he said.

He started his company in 2009, mainly as a provider of home-energy audits. He has expanded to installing solar equipment.

For years, the most thorough list of installers has been maintained by Green Energy Ohio, a nonprofit group based in Worthington, Eigel said. The group hosts regular meetings and sponsors an annual solar tour.

"It's been a place for people to get to know each other," he said.

The difference with this new state database is that it includes a broader variety of companies, including large manufacturers.

"We're looking at the industry as a whole," said Scott Miller, director of energy and environmental programs at the Voinovich School of Leadership at Ohio University, which helped produce the database. This is the most-recent example of the school's work to catalog energy businesses in the state, which has included fossil fuels and renewable energy.

Ohio has become a hub of solar-power manufacturing, with clusters of companies in the Cleveland and Toledo areas. But it is not clear how much the industry has contributed to the job market and economy. A 2011 report from the nonprofit Solar Foundation did not list Ohio among the top 10 states for solar employment, which means the Ohio industry has fewer than 2,400 jobs, based on the report's methods.

Estimating job totals is complicated by the fact that many companies are only partially involved in the solar industry, so employees spend only a fraction of their time on solar-related activities.

Ohio ranks 15th in the nation in installed solar power, says the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group.

"It's an emerging market that's growing and widening," Miller said. "It represents a growth trend in clean energy, which is a growing part of the economy."



(Originally posted at http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2012/11/23/need-solar-power-theres-a-list-for-that.html)