Ohio’s energy jobs boom

To the editor:

Despite recent arctic temperatures, the good news for Ohio is that we are benefiting from both falling gas prices and an energy jobs boom that is helping reduce the state unemployment rate. Last year, employment building pipelines, like Utopia, Leach Xpress, and others, spiked – creating more than 3,000 jobs for Laborers and more than 10,000 total for Building Tradesmen and women. Of the more than 12.5 million hours Laborers have worked building pipelines during the last five years, 5.8 million hours were logged in 2017.

The quality of these jobs cannot be overstated. Pipeline construction is a skilled craft and projects were built under agreements with pipeline owners that included good wages, investment in apprenticeship and training, health insurance benefits and pension benefits.

The wave of Ohio energy jobs has not crested. The gains made last year will bear even more fruit for working-class Ohioans in the coming years. By building out our transmission capacity, energy owners are now in a position to expand their networks further. Given the number of projects on the books and commitments from energy companies, we expect thousands more high quality construction jobs in the coming years. In addition to several new natural gas fired power plants, there is an underground natural gas storage cavern under consideration.

Utilities are also investing heavily in accelerated gas main and service replacement programs. Ni Source and Dominion have 25-year programs that will create lasting career paths. In 2017, 500 Laborers worked nearly 1.2 million hours building and maintaining gas distribution lines.

Energy jobs are bringing prosperity to the Buckeye State. Let’s keep a good thing going.

Ralph E. Cole

Business manager

Ohio Laborers’ District Council