Thursday, October 07, 2010

Ohio governor announces plan for solar array on former strip mine

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland earlier this week announced a plan for one of the country's largest solar arrays to be built on reclaimed strip-mine land in southeastern Ohio. "Construction of the 239,400-panel solar array, called Turning Point Solar, would start in early 2012 adjacent to The Wilds nature conservancy in Muskingum and Noble counties and be completed by the end of 2014," Mark Niquette of The Columbus Dispatch reports. Two companies based in Spain, Isofoton and Prius Energy S.L., would open manufacturing operations in Ohio to make the solar panels and trackers for the array as part of the project. (Dispatch map)

"Columbus-based American Electric Power has agreed to invest $20 million and signed a memorandum of understanding with the project's developers yesterday to negotiate an agreement to buy the electricity produced by the array for 20 years," Niquette writes. Estimates project the creation of 300 permanent manufacturing jobs, 300 jobs for construction of the array and 10 jobs to operate it. "One of the largest solar farms in the nation is going to be built here in Ohio, with solar panels and solar trackers made in Ohio, built by Ohioans with the know-how taught in Ohio colleges," Strickland said.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $250 million, and officials said it "will require a federal loan guarantee or other financing, as well as tax incentives and other aid," Niquette writes. "All of these things are in motion," David Wilhelm, a partner in New Harvest Ventures, part of a joint venture developing the array and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told Niquette. "None of them are certain as we speak here today, but we are confident on all scores." Sam Randazzo, a Columbus lawyer who represents a coalition of major industrial energy users, was less optimistic about the plan. "There have been a lot of these kinds of announcements, more of them around election time, and most of them never turn into anything," he said. (Read more)

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