Ohio coal-fired plant closing sets solar installments on track to surpass coal capacity by 2030

Holly Liptak

One of the largest coal-fired power plants in Ohio is set to close by 2028, and its end could mean a new beginning for clean energy in Ohio.

Since 2020, Ohio has been responsible for more than 10,600 megawatts of coal-generating capacity and only about 112 megawatts of solar. As large coal-fired plants in the state is set to close, energy production by solar will rise and is predicted to surpass coal production by the end of the decade.

Ohio House Bill 6, which was centered around the bribery scheme put in place to subsidize coal-fired power plants and reduce subsidies for clean energy sources, has been the driving force behind these types of closings.

The plant was originally to be closed by 2022 by Energy Harbor, but with the passage of House Bill 6, those plans changed. Sammis was not directly subsidized by the bill, but the bailout would keep the company afloat economically in order to keep it running.

The closing of the plant will leave about 5,000 MW produced by coal plants in Ohio, including the Gavin plant, Cardinal plant, Kyger plant and some municipal power plants. The Cardinal plant has plans to close by 2030. Ohio is in line with the national trend of slowly making the shift to clean energy — in 2011 the US generated less than 2 million MWh of electricity from solar power, but in 2020 that number was over 90 million MWh.

“It would be great to get the word out and make sure everyone is as educated as can be on issues of climate change,” said Bob Misbrenner, project manager on solar projects at Kent State University. “That type of awareness would then bleed into our everyday lives; maybe when you buy a house you put solar panels on it, maybe you even find one facing the correctly (for a solar installment).”

Companies like CZAR-Power are working to provide clean energy in innovative ways. The company’s mission is to “bring independence energy to everyone” through its combination of five electricity systems into one system running on clean energy.

The system includes a solar inverter, essential loads, a gateway, main panel and home battery inverter for $6,000 – nearly $15,000 less than five separate systems. The one-system design would allow for cost effectiveness and integration with clean energy sources. CZAR-Power did not respond to requests for interviews.

Organizations like the Utility Scale Solar Energy Coalition are pushing Ohio and the US in the direction of further clean energy reliance. The coalition is a non-profit organization that propels clean energy efforts in Ohio forward by working with industry leaders in order to “drive economic development benefitting Ohio’s communities, schools and rural landowners” according to the coalition’s website.

Executive Director of USSEC Jason Rafeld said his organization, the Utility Scale Solar Energy Coalition works to create a positive impact with their clean energy efforts.

“With the solar demand growing and the need to lessen reliance on coal becoming more and more prevalent … I think that the work we’re doing is so important now more than ever,” he said.