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Big solar project will make Bowling Green Ohio’s solar “mecca”
Next year, Bowling Green could be “the biggest solar city in Ohio,” according to Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio, thanks to a 20-megawatt (MW) project currently under construction, the Sentinel-Tribune reports. The project, which was highlighted at Green Energy Ohio’s statewide “Building Big Solar Across Ohio” conference, will have “85,000 tracking solar panels which follow the path of the sun,” according to the article. Spratley also predicted “big solar arrays will soon be very common,” The Plain Dealer reports. Congress’s extension of the 30-percent solar tax credit (see our December 22, 2015 blog post), as well as falling component costs, means “solar power has become more affordable, not only for homes and business but for power companies as well,” according to the Plain Dealer article. Utilities are increasingly adding solar generation to their lineup; American Electric Power has plans to add 400 MW of solar power to its energy production in Ohio (see our June 10, 2016 blog post). For more, read the full Sentinel-Tribune and Plain Dealer articles.
Minster’s solar and storage project wins Solar Power Player of the Year award
The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) has named the Village of Minster the 2016 Solar Power Players Awards Public Power Utility of the Year for its first-of-its-kind municipal solar power with battery storage project (see our October 23, 2015 blog post), the Sidney Daily News reports. The awards by SEPA “recognize electric utilities and their industry partners for creating programs embodying the innovation and collaboration that drives smart utility solar growth and expands consumer access to distributed energy technologies,” according to the article. Minster’s project, with 4.2 megawatts (MW) of solar and 7 MW of storage, is “the first of its kind developed by a public power authority.” Awards Judge Paul Belnick, vice president of Integrated Grid at New York Power Authority, said, “[b]y adding storage to solar, Minster has been able to increase the value of the solar array to its customers through revenue stacking . . . and demonstrate its forward-thinking leadership.” For more, read the full article.
OSU in final stage of selection for company to manage its energy
Ohio State University (OSU) is nearing the end of the process to select an outside group to manage its energy resources (see our March 1, 2016 blog post), Columbus Business First reports. OSU is reviewing six bids for the project; the board of trustees must approve the final plan. OSU President Michael Drake said that the benefits of the privatization plan extend beyond revenue generated to increased sustainability and energy efficiency for the campus. “I walk into different buildings where it’s hot in one room and cold in the next room, winter or summer,” Drake said, adding that OSU is “just not in the 21st century.” Columbus Business First reports that “[n]o school close to the size of Ohio State has leased such a large asset.” Drake said while the university “could wait for others” to show the way forward, “we’d prefer to be exemplars.” For more, read the full article.
Energy efficiency is third largest power resource in U.S., ACEEE report says
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently released a report that finds “energy efficiency is currently the third largest electric power resource in the United States, and could grow to be the most significant by 2030,” Utility Dive reports. Energy efficiency not only “is a greater contributor to the U.S. energy mix than nuclear power,” but has also “averted the need to build the equivalent of 313 power plants since 1990,” according to ACEEE. Additionally, the group estimates that energy efficiency had a significant impact on carbon dioxide emissions, reducing annual emissions by “490 million tons in 2015.” Most states could meet 25% of their Clean Power Plan emissions reduction targets “through efficiency policies and the resulting investments,” while some could meet 100%. In a blog post, ACEEE said, “[w]e can see further evidence of efficiency’s impact in the fact that electricity consumption has flattened in recent years even as the economy has grown. What’s more, energy efficiency has saved consumers $90 billion annually on electric bills.” For more, read the full Utility Dive article, the ACEEE blog post, and the ACEEE report.
Denison’s solar field project still on hold pending another appeal
After twice receiving approval from Granville City Council and winning one court appeal, Denison University’s plan to install solar panels on its Biological Reserve is still on hold, pending the outcome of another appeal, The Columbus Dispatch reports. The case will now head to the Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals, after a group of residents living on Welsh Hills Road filed the latest appeal. The group previously filed an appeal with Licking County Common Pleas Court after “the village council upheld the zoning board’s initial approval for the project (see our March 11, 2015 blog post),” at which time Judge Thomas Marcelain “sent the matter back to council, ruling that the village hadn’t determined whether the project constituted commercial use,” according to the article. Council then voted that “the solar array did not constitute commercial use (see our February 1, 2016 blog post),” and in July 2016, Judge Marcelain upheld that decision. Denison Sustainability Coordinator Jeremy King said the university has addressed many of the group’s concerns, as “[t]he fence surrounding the array would be at least 250 feet away from residents’ property lines,” and the university has promised “to put up a ‘plant screen’ — a buffer of shrubs and evergreen trees — between the panels and nearby homes.” For more, read the full article.
Findlay explores alternative fuels for city vehicles
A grant may help answer the question of whether the City of Findlay should be using alternative fuels, hometownstations.com reports. Clean Fuels Ohio approached the city about applying for “a $50,000 state grant to look at the costs and benefits of using alternative energy, primarily compressed natural gas,” according to the article. Findlay’s Safety Service Director Paul Schmelzer said he “can’t answer that question at this point” and if grant funds allow the city to explore it, then “we can tell those constituents that are asking the question . . . what does this look like for us, we’ll have some data to back up the answer.” Schmelzer says if the city does receive the grant, analysis should “be complete by the middle of 2017.” The grant would not obligate the city to implement any recommendations. For more, read the full article.
Which way does the wind blow in Ohio? State’s wind rules under discussion, again
The winds of change may be blowing in Ohio, as lawmakers discuss another possible change to the state’s requirements for wind turbines, Columbus Business First reports. Ohio “was considered a highly attractive region for developers of large-scale wind farms” until legislative changes enacted stricter setback requirements (see our June 18, 2014 blog post) and froze renewable energy standards (see our June 13, 2014 blog post). Because of those changes, developers “dialed back” the wind industry’s future in Ohio to “cautiously optimistic,” according to the article. A new piece of legislation, Substitute House Bill 190, could regain some of the lost appeal by establishing a “wind corridor” in northwestern Ohio, which “would allow counties in the corridor to follow less restrictive setback requirements.” Amazon.com Inc.’s manager of U.S. public policy, John Stephenson, testified in favor of the bill; Amazon “has partnered with EDP Renewables to build a 100-megawatt wind facility in Paulding County (see our December 9, 2015 blog post).” For more, read the full article.
Clyde’s 3.6MW solar field saving the city $200,000
AEP Onsite Energy Partners built the 20-acre solar field that began commercial operations in Clyde on June 1, but the city is still saving money, reports the Sandusky Register. The 11,800 solar-celled panels “track the sun, one of the few solar fields in Ohio that does, providing optimal solar exposure,” City Manager Paul Fiser said. The 3.6 megawatts (MW) of electricity generated “result in a saving to the city of $200,000 in reduced transmission fees from other energy supplies,” according to the article. Additionally, the city will net $600,000 from AEP over the 20-year lease for use of the land. Fiser “loves saving money” and the partnership with AEP, as well as the “positive environmental impact,” saying, “[c]utting independence on fossil fuels — what is not good about green energy?” For more, read the full article.
Ohio’s low ranking in solar-power report due to politics, environmental group says
A bill signed two years ago has “stymied” solar power in the state, according to a group that released a new report ranking Ohio 29th in the country for solar power per capita, The Columbus Dispatch reports. The report, from Environment Ohio and “affiliated environmental advocacy groups,” shows Ohio has 10 watts of solar power per capita, which translates to “roughly one solar panel per 25 people.” Indiana, by comparison, “ranks 20th with 21 watts per person,” according to the article. Sam Gerard, a campaign organizer for Environment Ohio, said, “[t]he main thing we want to convey here is that solar power has potential to power our state. But we are still stymied by attacks from big utility companies that know solar jeopardized their industry.” When Senate Bill 310 was signed two years ago (see our June 13, 2014 blog post), it froze standards on renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks that required utilities to meet annual benchmarks for installing renewable energy including solar and wind power. At Environment Ohio’s recent event to mark the report’s release, Michael Smucker of Third Sun Solar was one of the speakers who “touted the economic benefits of solar power,” saying, “[i]t’s possible to preserve the planet and grow the economy at the same time.” For more, read the full article.
Despite court stay, EPA moves ahead with incentive program for Clean Power Plan
Despite the Supreme Court’s February 2016 order staying the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), the “Obama administration is moving ahead” with incentives for the program, reports thehill.com. The Clean Energy Incentive Program would “give states compliance credits for renewable energy and efficiency projects that are undertaken earlier than the Clean Power Plan would require them,” according to the article. Janet McCabe, head of the EPA’s air pollution office, said, “[t]aking these steps will help cut carbon pollution by encouraging investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency, which will help give our kids and grandkids a healthier and safer future.” The EPA believes “actions like the incentive program and helping states voluntarily comply with the regulation are permissible under the court stay.” For more, read the full article.