Study Finds Northeast Ohio Can Revitalize its Economy by Becoming Center for Electric Vehicle Technologies and Manufacturing

Potential for thousands of jobs, billions in annual economic output

Release Date: 09.18.2009

With a substantial increase in the use of electrically powered vehicles nationwide and a retooling of its manufacturing base to support production of these vehicles, Northeast Ohio could potentially gain more than 10,000 new jobs and increase its annual economic output by billions of dollars, according to results of a study commissioned by the Cleveland Foundation.

Such a move would also improve local air quality and reduce the region’s contributions to climate change and dependence on foreign oil sources, the authors of the study found.

The study, conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and facilitated by FirstEnergy Corp., recommends establishing an “electric transportation innovation center” in Northeast Ohio to promote development of improved electric drive technologies and help Cleveland-area manufacturers adapt.

“For several years the Cleveland Foundation has been committed to an advanced energy initiative,” said Richard Stuebi, fellow for energy and environmental advancement. “Our goal is to make the Cleveland area a center for advanced energy innovation and manufacturing. It offers the potential to create many new jobs and thereby revitalize the local economy while reducing our environmental footprint.

“The emergence of electric vehicle markets will accelerate. This study provides clear and compelling evidence why the Cleveland area must begin taking action to capture these substantial economic and environmental opportunities for our region.”

The study analyzed the regional economic impact of large-scale national use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) – which combine internal combustion engines with electric motors that can be plugged into the electrical grid – as well as other electric-drive vehicles (EDVs). The study found that two types of regional economic benefit would emerge from such a shift.

First, the manufacturing sector in Northeast Ohio could be re-energized by producing electrically powered vehicles and advanced batteries and other components, along with associated equipment to modernize the electrical grid in support of widespread vehicle electrification. Up to 10,500 jobs could emerge if the national shift to electrically powered vehicles were expedited, and if Northeast Ohio were to act to capture the resulting commercial opportunities in a forceful manner.

Second, businesses and households that use PHEVs and EDVs would reduce their costs for fuels, which are mostly petroleum based and imported from outside the region, and thus have more residual income to redeploy into the local economy.

“We need to develop more environmentally friendly technologies, and PHEVs represent a major step in achieving that goal,” said Mark Duvall, director of electric transportation research at EPRI. “PHEVs will help lower greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles as well as sharply reduce our dependency on petroleum as a transportation fuel. This study also shows that PHEV adoption generates significant economic benefits to communities.”

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Established in 1914, the Cleveland Foundation is the world’s first community foundation and the nation’s third-largest today, with assets of $1.6 billion and 2008 grants of $84 million. The foundation improves the lives of Greater Clevelanders by building community endowment, addressing needs through grantmaking, and providing leadership on vital issues. Currently, the foundation proactively directs two-thirds of its flexible grant dollars to the community’s greatest needs: economic transformation (including advanced energy and globalization), public school improvement, early childhood and youth development, neighborhoods and housing, and arts advancement. For more information on the Cleveland Foundation, please visit ClevelandFoundation.org.

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The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI, www.epri.com ) conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery, and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together experts from academia and industry as well as its own scientists and engineers to help address challenges in electricity generation, delivery and use, including health, safety, and the environment. EPRI’s members represent more than 90 percent of the electricity generated and delivered in the United States, and international participation extends to 40 countries. EPRI’s principal offices and laboratories are located in Palo Alto, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Lenox, Mass.