Saturday, February 4, 2012

Village Could Have Largest Solar Array in Region

This village could become home to the largest solar power array in Southwest Ohio in 2012 as part of a $65 million project to put new solar power in smaller Ohio villages and cities.

Mike Dickman, vice president of SolarVision of Westerville near Columbus, said he’s close to a financing deal for the ambitious project. He’d like to break ground later this year, he said.

Aside from federal tax credits that will be part of the project, the financing now is in its last phases is from private sources, Dickman said.

In Yellow Springs, a 2.5 megawatt array is planned for part of 44 acres of farmland owned by the village that’s northwest of town off King Street, said Mark Cundiff, village manager.

Yellow Springs signed a purchase agreement for all the electricity and plans to use it during periods of high demand to lower costs during “peak” periods, Cundiff said.

A megawatt (MW) of power is equivalent to one million watts. Renewable energy, because it relies on natural factors, does not produce a consistent power stream. For example, the 1.1 MW Dayton Power & Light solar array in Washington Twp. produces enough electricity to power 150 average homes in a year, but up to 750 on bright days.

Between the solar array and new Ohio River hydroelectric projects being built now, the Yellow Springs intends to draw more than 50 percent of its power needs from renewable sources in 2013, Cundiff said. Yellow Springs owns its electric power distribution system.

The village’s aggressive renewable goal is being helped by American Municipal Power Inc. or AMP, which is building new hydro projects on the Ohio River at existing dams.

AMP said that the projects will add 300 megawatts of capacity. AMP has called the projects “the largest development of new run-of-the-river hydroelectric generation in the country.”

Dickman said other sites planned for solar arrays include Celina, Wapakoneta, Greenfield, Carey, Wellington, Clyde and Newark. The projects should generate 20 megawatts of electricity, more than any single solar installation operating in Ohio.

Dayton Power & Light’s 1.1 megawatt facility at 9975 Yankee St. in Washington Twp. began operating in 2010.

Ohio law has an alternative energy standard requiring that 25 percent of electricity sold by Ohio’s electric distribution utilities or electric services companies be generated from alternative energy sources by 2025. At least half must be from renewables, such as solar, wind, biomass and hydro with a minimum of one-half percent from solar. One half of the renewable energy must be from Ohio installations.

Coal powers 86 percent of Ohio’s electric generation, natural gas and other gases account for 2 percent, Nuclear power is 10 percent and wind, solar and hydro make up about 1 percent.


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