Ohio’s solar status

By Isaiah Eaton, Colleen Carroll, Zach McKnight 

Hog Creek Wind Turbine farm in Payne Ohio, July 2018

By 2026, Ohio will require electric companies to generate at least 12.5% of their power from renewable energy sources as part of their Renewable Portfolio Standard. Ohio plans to do this to reduce the carbon footprint that is impacting the Earth. House Bill 6 sponsored by Jamie Callender and Shane Wilkin will modify the use of electricity from nuclear, coal and renewable energy resources. 

Northeast Ohio is known to have cloudy days but that isn’t stopping the region from being one of the biggest advocates for solar energy. The region has the most solar energy farms and panels than any part of the state. There are farms in Wadsworth, Akron and Kent Ohio which all operate as a renewable energy power plant. 

Solar Projects in Ohio 

Wadsworth’s cut of the sun

The city of Wadsworth is entering the world or solar energy as well and completed construction on a 6.25-Megawatt solar farm in December of 2019,

Wadsworth, one of 80 communities that provides its own power from a central Wadsworth power grid to its customers approved the decision in June of 2019.

“The city of Wadsworth is unique because we provide the electricity to the community,” said Robert Patrick, public services director for the city of Wadsworth. “We purchased our own power, so we have the ability to decide where that power comes from based on the community.”

Patrick said this system is advantageous to the city because of its cut on power transmission costs.

“The city pays for our energy generation facilities, like the solar, the wind, the natural gas, but there are also pay costs for transmission fees,” Patrick said. “All the big tension poles along the expressway transport the power from the facility and we pay a fee from that. By generating our own power in the city, we don’t need transport and don’t pay those fees.”

Patrick said the city already has implemented hydro and wind power and has implemented a peak rewards system aimed at conserving energy by implementing generators on hot days and turning lights off.

“Anything we can do that’s going to reduce the power is going to help everybody in the next year,” Patrick said. “We try anything we can do to reduce those costs.”

Patrick explains that nonprofit American Municipal Power teamed with third party investor NextEra Energy Resources to buy 35 acres near Seville Road in Wadsworth and install 21,000 panels to service the cities power grid.

Patrick explains that like Kent State, solar panels were the optimal choice over other renewables like hydro and wind because of its impressive and recent decrease in installation price.

“Solar has become the number 1 new electric generation facilities in the United States now,” Patrick said. “It’s really increased in the popularity and it’s brought prices down.”

A 2019 study published by the Colorado’s National Renewable Energy Lab shows that solar installation prices have dropped 65% in the last 8 years.

Patrick also said that AMP was eager to partner with NextEra on this solar project because of their ability to receive tax credits from the government. Ohio’s solar incentives include a net metering policy that allows a solar homeowner to sell unused energy back to grid as credit on utility bills.

 Ohio has also implemented a Solar Renewable Energy Certificate that grants cash vouchers dependent on solar output and newbie solar owner can partake in the Energy Conservations for Ohioans program that discounts installment costs.

“We weren’t able to get the tax credits because we’re government, American Municipal power can’t get the tax credits because they are a non-profit that represents government. NextEra is able because they are a private party.” Patrick said. “It made the project more economically feasible.”

All these incentives work to accomplish Ohio’s recently revised renewable energy portfolio standard that finds of all energy 8.6% of those sources must be renewable procedures.  

Patrick said a second solar farm is planned for the city of Wadsworth, a 3.5-megawatt system that has begun installation.

Ben Delman
Solar United Neighbors Communications Director

Ben Delman said, “In Cuyahoga County we worked pretty closely with the county government there to help them developed a procurement plan for government buildings for solar. We’re starting to work around the state with other local governments to help them adopt the same contracting.” 

“We’re likely to see a legislation this year to implement what we call Community Solar. The idea behind that is well what if maybe your home isn’t a good fit for solar, maybe you have a big shady tree covering your roof so that would really not make it a probable system. Let’s say you’re someone who rents and you can’t put solar on your apartment building necessarily. What it does is allows those folks to essentially purchase a share and take a share of the larger solar system built somewhere in the community and have the electricity that the system would generate be credited onto their electric bill the same as if the panels were up on the roof.” 

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Switching to solar gets rid of the carbon footprint left behind by the non renewable ways of producing electricity. As you can see on the graph a Kent Homeowner switched to solar in the final June and his kilowatts for producing electricity energy went all the way to zero. This also in turn lowers his electricity bill and saves the solar energy user money in the long run. 

Kent’s solar solution

Robert Misbrener
Energy Conservationist

In 2012 Kent State installed solar panels on the field house and has plans to implement them in sattelite campuses as well.

“The savings… I believe there is about an eight year payback for that residential system. For commercial systems it could be approximately the same but it’s saving on the energy bill. Now the energy bill you could save anywhere from 10% or higher over what the utility is charging you for electricity,” said project manadger Rober Misbrener.

Robert Misbrener
Energy Conservationist explains how Solar Panels work and where they are being installed.

Ohio vs U.S.A.

According to seia.org, solar usage is exploding. In the third quarter of 2019, the U.S. installed 2.6 gigawatts of solar PV capacity to reach 71.3 GW of installed capacity. That’s enough to power 13.5 million homes. California has the largest amount of solar usage while Ohio is 28th. Despite this, solar power is growing.

Bright future

Ohio despite a cut to renewable energy portfolio standards is still one of the fastest growing solar states in the country. In a survey done by Clean Jobs Ohio solar is the fastes growing energy industry for job oppurtunities with 4,800 working in the field currently, and there’s plenty of room for expansion. Solar Industry Research Data the solar industry investments in the US reached  $17 billion dollars in 2018. According to Solar Nation if there were panels on every roof there would be enough sunlight to fufill 35% of the Ohio’e entire power qouta. 

 

Colleen Carroll: Wadsworth Written Piece, video editing/production, map graphic, featured image, interviews (2)

Isaiah Eaton: Written story, video editing/production, graph graphic, interviews (2)

Zach McKnight: Stats and graph, story editing 

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