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Oct 08, 2014

OSU researchers invent rechargeable solar battery
 

This could be a game-changer: Ohio State University (OSU) researchers have invented a battery that “could make solar energy more affordable for homeowners and businesses and could open the door for its widespread use as a sustainable power source,” reports The Columbus Dispatch. Yiying Wu, a chemistry and biochemistry professor at OSU and a member of the research group, said, “[r]ight now, in order to use renewable energy, we have to use solar panels, but we have to save the energy, so then we also need to use batteries.” Wu and his students sought to integrate the battery and solar panel system into a single device. He said that current systems “lose about 20 percent of the energy solar panels collect when the energy is transferred to a battery.” The system invented at OSU “maintains nearly all of the energy.” Mingzhe Yu, a doctoral student who invented a component of the new battery, said the OSU battery should also lower solar-energy system manufacturing costs by around 25 percent. For more, read the full article
 
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Sep 26, 2014

Solar array project in Gahanna proceeds despite effects of SB 310
 

A new solar array project in Gahanna will be one of the five largest in central Ohio when it is completed later this year, reports The Columbus Dispatch. The “$1.8 million plan includes construction of a covered parking area with solar panels on top, located next to an existing office building,” and will have a 538-kilowatt capacity, according to the article. Mark Shanahan, an energy consultant based in Columbus, is pleased to see the Gahanna project going forward, but noted that others investors might “be more likely to invest elsewhere, considering that other states have greater financial incentives.” As renewable energy advocates predicted, since SB 310 passed, the value of solar renewable-energy certificates (SRECs) that utilities can buy to meet renewable energy requirements has gone down. Without the incentive of higher-priced SRECs, Tad Ritter, a real-estate consultant who helped plan the Gahanna solar array, promoted the project to the property owner based on the increase in property value and appeal to tenants. For more, read the full article
 
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Sep 23, 2014

Ohio’s freeze on energy standards cools state’s solar development
 

Before Senate Bill 310 (SB 310) took effect September 12th of this year, Ohio’s solar energy sector had already experienced a drastic decline. After SB 310 passed, “Ohio’s market for solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) dropped dramatically,” and has yet to rebound, reports Midwest Energy News. Because official state reports won’t reflect that change for some time, the Energy Mandates Study Commission (for more on this, read our September 22, 2014 blog post) “could wind up using unreliable data to evaluate compliance costs for the state’s energy mandates,” according to the article. The drop in SRECs was accompanied by a corresponding drop in new solar resources in Ohio. “New solar resources in Ohio dropped below 100 kW per month when the bill passed,” compared to the previous six-month average of 1 MW, the article reports. For more, read the full article.
 
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Aug 14, 2014

Athens-based company eligible to bid on U.S. military solar projects
 

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has selected Third Sun Solar as the only Ohio small business “to be eligible to bid on solar energy infrastructure projects at American military bases,” according to The Athens News. Third Sun Solar is now allowed to bid on “specific contracts for the Department of Defense for solar installations for bases in the U.S. and abroad,” according to the article. The nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts organization reports that “[t]he U.S. military needs safe, secure, reliable, and affordable energy to operate facilities on an uninterrupted basis. To meet essential power requirements, defense leaders have initiated far-reaching steps to harness advanced technologies capable of conserving energy, enabling on-site production from renewable sources, and saving taxpayers millions of dollars.” Gerald Kelly, communications director at Third Sun Solar, said in the Athens News article, “[t]he Department of Defense is very interested in energy security. For example, an Army base that sits on a civilian grid, they want to be able to function even if the civilian grid isn’t functioning.” For more, read the full Athens News article and The Pew Charitable Trusts report.
 
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Aug 04, 2014

OSU and AEP Energy installing university’s largest solar array on top of main gym
 

The Ohio State University (OSU) and AEP Energy have started construction on a 101-kilowatt solar array on the roof of OSU’s Recreation and Physical Activities Center, according to a Columbus Business First article. The array of 367 solar panels “arranged in the school’s signature Block-O logo” will be the university’s largest, and will provide some electricity to the main gym. According to the article, “[AEP Energy] is providing all the labor and materials and is supplying the electricity to Ohio State at 4 cents per kilowatt for the next eight years. Then, both sides will decide whether to renew.” The article also notes that OSU has a few solar arrays in off-campus locations, but “none as centrally located” as this one, between the Ohio Stadium and the school’s main library. For more, read the full article.
 
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Aug 04, 2014

U.S. tariffs on Chinese solar products help rebalance the market
 

The United States Commerce Department recently found that Chinese solar companies sold products below cost in the American market, and imposed duties ranging from 10.74 to 55.49 percent on those products, according to a New York Times article. An earlier decision in June found that Chinese solar panel manufacturers had “benefited from unfair government subsidies,” according to the article. The higher tariffs imposed with the June ruling have helped American and European manufacturers become more competitive in the market, but rising prices may also create challenges for larger solar projects. GTM Research’s Shayle Kann “said that the increases came at a particularly difficult time…because developers had been signing power purchase agreements with utilities at low prices that could become difficult to fulfill if equipment costs nudged up.” For more, read the full article.  
 
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Jul 25, 2014

Ohio prison solar-panel array installation brings multiple benefits
 

The State of Ohio recently revealed that 400 solar panels installed at Ross Correctional Institution, located approximately 50 miles south of Columbus, will save the taxpayers approximately $245,000 annually in energy costs, paying for itself in just over 6 years, according to a recent Washington Times article. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction said the solar-panel array “will be the primary source for hot water and heating in eight cell blocks,” according to the article. Ross warden Mark Hooks said the environmental impact and opportunity to provide job skills are as important as the savings the project provides, saying “You can’t have rehabilitation if you don’t give guys opportunities.” One inmate who worked on the project has already been offered a job after release by the construction company that installed the panels. For more, read the full article

 
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Jun 12, 2014

Residential solar power is gaining ground on electric utilities
 

More affordable energy storage options means residential solar power is becoming a bigger threat to America’s electric utilities, according to an article in Business Insider. According to the article, Barclays “is downgrading its electric sector rating to ‘underweight’ from ‘market weight’” to reflect this shift. Net-metering homeowners have typically relied on utility electricity for power needed beyond what they generate at the time of demand. However, in the past five years, the price of a solar-charged battery to store excess power has dropped dramatically — from about $17,000 to around $3,700 — making it more likely that consumers could store power for later use. Ohio’s net metering law may not allow for such battery storage; Ohio requires net-metering consumers to use a bidirectional meter so that excess energy generated will flow back to the grid. 

Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requires electric distribution utilities and electric service companies to obtain a certain percentage of power supplied from renewable sources, including 0.5% from solar by 2024. However, SB 310, which recently went to Governor Kasich’s desk for his signature (read our June 6, 2014 blog post about this) would eliminate the requirement that at least half of Ohio’s required renewable energy be obtained from within the state. 

For more, read the complete Business Insider article.
 
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May 21, 2014

Clean-energy initiative didn’t meet signature requirements, rejected by Attorney General DeWine
 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine rejected a revised petition (read about the previous petition in our November 2013 blog post) asking the state to invest $1.3 billion in clean-energy projects because “petitioners did not collect enough valid signatures,” according to Cleveland.com. The proposal called for the $1.3 billion to be spent on geothermal, wind, and solar energy research, development, and infrastructure over a 10-year period. The Columbus Dispatch reports that under the proposed initiative, “Ohio would be severely limited in how much it could control or influence the selection of projects and investments.” For more, read the full Dispatch and Cleveland.com stories, as well as the full text of the proposed amendment.

 
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May 02, 2014

Marietta College plans to install 116 more solar panels by early summer
 

By early summer, Marietta College officials plan to have two additional solar installation projects completed, The Marietta Times reports. One hundred solar panels will be installed on the McCoy Athletic Facility and 16 are planned for Pioneer House, which is also known as the Sustainable Lifestyle House. It is estimated that the McCoy installation will generate 36.5 megawatt-hours per year and that the Pioneer House will generate about 9.0 megawatt-hours per year. This follows the school's initial panel installation project, which took place at the end of the 2012-2013 academic year and involved the installation of both photovoltaic solar panels and a solar hot water system in the Pioneer House, the article said. For more, read the full story.

 
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May 01, 2014

New survey from Advanced Energy Economy Ohio shows Ohio voters oppose bill to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks
 

The energy efficiency and renewable energy business association Ohio Advanced Energy Economy (Ohio AEE) recently released a poll that found that "72 percent of respondents believe the state should continue to replace traditional forms of energy, like coal, with renewable sources like wind and solar," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Based on "600 telephone interviews of Ohio voters," the survey is being touted as evidence that constituents do not agree with state Republicans' repeated attempts at scaling back, repealing and now freezing the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards. The latest effort is S.B. 310, which Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) introduced in late March to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmark requirements at 2014 levels. Ohio AEE President and CEO Ted Ford said that S.B. 310 would "put at risk some 400 advanced energy companies employing 25,000 Ohioans," the article said.

 
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Apr 29, 2014

Mayors of Cleveland and Columbus come out in opposition to S.B. 310
 

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman have separately written letters asking Ohio lawmakers to oppose the recent effort to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks at 2014 levels, The Columbus Dispatch reports. The mayors are referring to S.B. 310, which Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) introduced in late March. The bill represents the latest in a string of efforts by Republicans in both the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives to repeal, scale back or freeze the two benchmarks (See our April 3, 2014, blog post – "Ohio Sen. Troy Balderson delivers sponsor testimony on his bill to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks for utilities at 2014 levels"). For more, read the full story.

 
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Apr 22, 2014

Webinar taking place today will discuss bond financing for clean energy projects
 

The Washington, D.C.-based Brooking Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program is hosting a webinar on Tuesday to discuss the findings of its newly released paper on using the bond market to finance clean energy markets. On Tuesday, April 22, from 1-2:30 p.m. EDT, Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings, will host the webinar – "Clean Energy Finance Through the Bond Market: A New Option for Progress" – with special guests Toby Rittner from the Council of Development Finance Agencies, Lewis Milford from the Clean Energy Group, Jeff Pitkin from the the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and Paul Toth from the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. The webinar is free and open to the public. For registration information, click here.

 
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Apr 03, 2014

Ohio Sen. Troy Balderson delivers sponsor testimony on his bill to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks for utilities at 2014 levels
 

Last Friday, Ohio Senate Republicans introduced S.B. 310 to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks for utilities at 2014 levels (See our March 28, 2014, blog post for more information). Then, on Wednesday, Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) delivered sponsor testimony on the bill before the Senate Public Utilities Committee. Sen. Balderson said that the measure would "prevent electricity bills from continuing to rise," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Speaker Bill Batchelder (R-Medina) came out in support of the bill, saying that he expected it to pass the House quickly "after two or three hearings."  In addition to freezing the "current level of 2.5 percent of all the kilowatt hours of electricity that utilities sold, with 0.12 percent of that coming from solar energy resources and at least half of the total coming from facilities within the state," S.B. 310 proposes to require the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to adopt rules outlining "how it will disclose the costs of the standards on customers' utility bills." It would also establish a 21-member Energy Mandates Study Committee "consisting of various interest groups affected by the requirements [who would be] tasked with conducting a cost-benefit analysis on the effects of maintaining the standards in current law versus the 2014 levels going forward," the article said.


 
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Mar 28, 2014

Ohio Senate Republicans will introduce a bill today to freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks for utilities at 2014 levels
 

As rumored earlier this week, a bill is expected to be introduced in the Ohio Senate today that would freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks for utilities at 2014 levels indefinitely, Columbus Business First reports (See our March 26, 2014, blog post for more information). Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) will introduce the bill. A concurrent House bill is also expected today, the article said. In addition to freezing the benchmarks, the bill would "create a 20-person study group consisting of 10 legislators and 10 people 'from interested and impacted areas, including customers,'" to research the impact of the benchmarks. For more, read the full story.


 
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Mar 26, 2014

Ohio Senate Republicans plan to introduce a bill this week that would freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks
 

Ohio Senate Republicans are rumored to be preparing a bill for introduction as early as this week that would freeze the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency benchmarks, Columbus Business First and The Columbus Dispatch report. Details are scarce, but it does appear that while Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) is "involved in the bill's process," he does not plan to introduce the bill himself, The Dispatch reports. The effort follows nearly a year's worth of hearings and work in the Statehouse on S.B. 58 – a proposal to scale back the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards that lost significant momentum after the bill's sponsor, Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), called off a final hearing and vote in December (See our Feb 6, 2014, blog post for more information). The new bill also joins S.B. 34 – a proposal Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) first introduced in February 2013 to repeal the renewable energy requirement completely that received its second hearing earlier this year.


 
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Mar 18, 2014

Third Sun Solar installs a 9 kW system on an Athens County farm
 

Ohio University newspaper The Post recently profiled an Athens County farmer who had solar panels installed on his family's nearly century-old farm. Third Sun Solar of Athens installed the 9 kW system, which is "designed to produce more power in the summer" but will be able to produce enough power in all conditions – "even if covered by multiple inches of snow." This story represents an ongoing trend among farmers turning to renewable energy, particularly solar (See our Dec 9, 2013, blog post – "Solar is proving itself to be an inexpensive and unintrusive energy choice for Ohio farmers"). For more, read the full story.


 
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Mar 12, 2014

New report from national mayors group urges a renewal of federal funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant
 

The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently released a report lauding the successful results of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program as a means to call on the federal government to renew EECBG funding, Midwest Energy News reports. Created by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and funded for five years as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the EECBG "provided $2.7 billion for energy efficiency and conservation initiatives to cities larger than 35,000 people, counties larger than 200,000 and tribal governments, along with giving money to states to distribute to municipalities." The group surveyed 204 city mayors for its report, which concluded that "local partnerships with the federal government on efficiency and renewable energy projects have plummeted" dramatically since funding ran out. The report also described in detail the savings municipalities have experienced as a result of the funding, as well as examples of the different projects undertaken. For more, read the full story and report.


 
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Mar 12, 2014

Bricker & Eckler associate Dylan Borchers will discuss PACE financing at a Green Energy Ohio workshop in Dayton on March 14th
 

The nonprofit organization Green Energy Ohio will host a business-to-business workshop on energy efficiency on Friday, March 14th at the Dayton Convention Center. "Financing Ohio Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Projects" will feature 32 experts discussing the latest methods and incentives for financing renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Ohio. Bricker & Eckler associate Dylan Borchers will be presenting on Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. For more, including registration information, visit the event website.


 
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Mar 11, 2014

Solar cell constructed in Perrysburg set a world record for conversion efficiency
 

Arizona-based First Solar, Inc. announced recently that it set a world record for cadmium-telluride photovoltaic solar cell conversion efficiency, "achieving 20.4 percent conversion efficiency certified at the Newport Corporation's Technology and Applications Center (TAC) PV Lab and confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)." The cell that set the record was constructed at the company's factory and Research & Development Center in Perrysburg, Ohio. For more, read the full news release.


 
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Mar 05, 2014

Collaboration on a solar project between the city and college of Oberlin is being hailed as a mutual success
 

A 2.27-megawatt solar array created by Oberlin College and the City of Oberlin's electrical utility is being hailed as the beginning of a move away from a reliance on central power toward local distributive generation, Midwest Energy News reports. The collaboration was born out of necessity when the college determined it needed the city's transmission lines. After recently completing its first full year of operation, the array is reported to have "met about 12 percent of the college's electricity needs; produced about 50 percent more power than projected during hours of peak demand; saved the utility nearly $100,000 in generation and distribution costs, translating into a slightly lower cost of power for customers; and nudged up, by nearly three percentage points, the proportion of the city's energy that is derived from renewable sources." Because the college opted to "pay a premium for panels with a tracking feature that allows them to follow the sun across the sky," the array has generated more peak-time energy than anticipated. For more, read the full story.


 
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Feb 21, 2014

Ohio Senate committee holds fourth hearing on S.B. 34 to completely repeal the state's renewable energy requirement
 

The Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee recently held its fourth hearing on S.B. 34, which Sen. Kris Jordan (R-Ostrander) introduced in February 2013 to completely repeal the requirement that electric distribution utilities and electric services companies provide 25 percent of their retail power supplies from advanced and renewable energy resources by 2025. Witnesses who testified in support of the repeal were Travis Fischer, policy associate for the Institute for Energy Research; Michael Farren, a PhD candidate at Ohio State University on his own behalf; Myron Ebell, director of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Center for Energy and Environment; Greg Lawson of the Buckeye Institute; and Jay Lehr, science director for the Heartland Institute. According to the Gongwer Ohio Report, Fischer described the standards as harmful to the economy and said they destroy more jobs than they create, while Lawson said the "energy landscape" has dramatically changed since the standards were developed, particularly with respect to the shale boom. See our Feb 6, 2014, blog post for more information.


 
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Feb 20, 2014

Report ranks Ohio eighth in the nation for solar industry-related jobs
 

According to nonprofit research group The Solar Foundation's latest State Solar Jobs Census report, the solar industry "now directly employs an estimated 17,044 people in the Midwest," Midwest Energy News reports. In 2013, Ohio ranked eighth in the nation for solar jobs, up two spots from its 2012 ranking. It currently ranks number one in the Midwest. During that time, the state added 900 solar jobs, with manufacturing, installation and project development emerging as the top industries. The total number of solar companies in Ohio is 185, with approximately 8,498 homes powered by solar.

Ohio law requires electric distribution utilities and electric services companies to secure a portion of their electricity from alternative energy resources. By 2025, 25 percent of the electricity sold by each utility or electric services company within Ohio must be generated from alternative energy sources. At least 12.5 percent must be generated from renewable energy resources, including wind, hydro, biomass and at least 0.5 percent solar. At least one half of the renewable energy used must be generated at facilities located in Ohio. The constitutionality of this in-state requirement is currently being challenged both by Republicans in the Ohio House of Representatives as well as opponents of a wind farm before the Ohio Supreme Court (See our Feb 14, 2014, blog post – "Neighbor group opposed to the Buckeye II Wind Project is challenging the in-state renewable energy requirement's constitutionality before the Ohio Supreme Court"). Read more about Ohio's Renewable and Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard on this Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) webpage.

For more, read the full story.


 
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Feb 18, 2014

Ohio Supreme Court grants FirstEnergy's request to halt its refund of customer over-charges for wind and solar
 

Last week, the Ohio Supreme Court granted Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp.'s request to "halt a customer refund of more than $50 million in renewable energy charges until the court can settle the dispute between the electric utility, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) and the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC)," according to The Hannah Report. In August 2013, the PUCO ruled that the the utility "overcharged its Ohio customers by $43.3 million for electricity generated by wind and solar," The Plain Dealer reports. The company's unregulated subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions paid up to 15 times the market prices for renewable energy credits (RECs) when it purchased electricity for the Illuminating Co., Ohio Edison and Toledo Edison, the excessive cost of which the PUCO determined the utility passed on to its customers. The company agreed to post a more than $50 million bond with the court, which is less than the $65 million requested by the OCC, who opposed the stay. FirstEnergy maintains that the high court ruling in Keco Industries, Inc. v. Cincinnati & Suburban Bell Tel. Co. (1957) forbids the company from refunding customer charges already approved by the PUCO. In a motion opposing the stay, the PUCO said it "agreed to a 'special' rider to save FirstEnergy the relays of a traditional rate case." It says the decision in River Gas Co. v. PUCO (1982) "allowed the commissioners to retroactively adjust variable rates." For more, read this Bricker & Eckler publication, which summarizes the PUCO's August 2013 ruling.


 
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Feb 13, 2014

Bipartisan legislation would allow solar projects under construction at the end of 2016 to qualify for the Investment Tax Credit
 

Under legislation introduced last Thursday by U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Dean Heller (R-NV), solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) projects under construction by the end of 2016 would still be eligible for a 40 percent tax credit through the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), according to a news release from Sen. Heller. The ITC is set to expire at the end of 2016 and current language only allows projects that are placed in service by then to qualify. The ITC "has been perhaps the most important policy support for the growth of the U.S. solar market," according to Solar Magazine. The Bennet-Heller bill follows a similar change that was made to the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which significantly helped grow the U.S. wind industry and expired at the end of 2013 (See our Oct 16, 2013, blog post for more information). For more, read the full story.


 
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Feb 02, 2014

Energy cost savings and big dividend payments prompt West Jefferson School officials to expand their solar energy program
 

A large-scale solar array project at the West Jefferson High School and Middle School facility in Madison County has proven economically successful enough for Jefferson Local School officials to approve an expansion of the energy program, The Madison Press reports. Columbus-based Solar Plant will begin installation of a rooftop solar array at Norwood Elementary this spring, the Columbus Messenger reports. The district's existing solar panel project is freestanding behind the athletic complex, but due to aesthetic considerations, the next project will be a smaller rooftop installation. Officials made the decision following a presentation outlining the energy cost savings and dividend payments that have occurred as a result of the program. From September 2012 to September 2013, for example, the average electricity cost per day dropped from $142.20 to $73.73.


 
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Feb 01, 2014

U.S. House passes farm bill with Rural Energy for America Program funding intact
 

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013, known as the farm bill, including provisions to fund the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Solar Industry magazine reports. REAP funding is among the credits, grants and subsidies that have contributed to a significant uptick in solar installations on farmlands in Ohio, Michigan and elsewhere, Midwestern Energy News reports (See our Dec 9, 2013, blog post – "Solar is proving itself to be an inexpensive and unintrusive energy choice for Ohio farmers"). REAP provisions "offers grants and loans to rural businesses and agricultural producers for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, including solar and small wind power systems," according to Solar Industry. Michigan-based EcoJive Solar initially thought manufacturers would be their top customers, but it has instead been farmers, who have the open land and physical structures to support solar installations, as well as the inclination to think long term with regard to investing in their businesses and pursuing self-sufficiency. Senate approval is considered "a formality" and President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill. Passage of the five-year farm bill fell mostly along party lines, with Democrats voting against it because it trimmed one percent from the food stamp program. The bill earmarks $45 million in each fiscal year from 2014 through 2018 to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy through REAP. Solar Industry reports that "[a]pplications for REAP funding are to be evaluated under the three-tiered approach, representing projects costing $80,000 or less, those over $80,000 but less than $200,000, and those costing $200,000 or more," adding that the "so-called energy title also provides funding for biofuel programs."


 
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Jan 31, 2014

PJM to consider requiring renewable resources to add technology capable of providing grid support
 

Responding to the fact that large traditional generators are being retired while the amount of renewable energy sources is increasing, the Planning Committee for PJM Interconnection recently approved a plan to "explore whether to require renewables such as solar PV to install enhanced or 'smart' inverters that can produce and absorb reactive power in addition to inverting DC power to AC," RTO Insider reports. Although it is not a current problem for PJM, renewable power generators equipped with smart inverters in Great Britain and Germany improve grid reliability by allowing "renewable generators to stay on line despite low voltages and fluctuating frequencies," while also reducing the flickering that "can occur with solar generators on days of mixed sun and clouds," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jan 30, 2014

PUCO releases its first report assessing the cost of complying with the state's renewable energy standards
 

On Monday, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's (PUCO) staff released the first draft report detailing how much Ohio's four investor-owned electric distribution utilities (EDUs) and its competitive electric retail service (CRES) providers paid in 2012 to comply with the state's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), which features annual benchmarks toward the overall requirement that 12.5 percent of the state's electricity supply come from renewable sources by 2025, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. According to the report, "[t]he figures for non-solar compliance, representing the total renewable requirement net of the specific solar requirement, show a total compliance obligation of approximately 1.9 million megawatt hours (MWhs) for 2012. Compliance with that figure fell just short of compliance, with 99.8 percent of the necessary RECs having been retired to satisfy the aggregate 2012 compliance obligation." All four EDUs met the benchmark for 2012, which required 1.5 percent to come from renewable energy resources, including 0.06 percent from solar energy resources and 1.44 percent from non-solar energy resources. However, CRES providers "came up a little short of their compliance targets, which PUCO staff said was likely because many of the new companies entering Ohio's market were unfamiliar with the law," the article said. EDUs paid an average of $24.93 for out-of-state renewable energy credits (RECs), while paying $33.51 for in-state RECs. EDUs paid an average of $58.75 for out-of-state solar RECs (SRECs), and $212.23 for Ohio-based SRECs. Based on several impediments noted in the 2012 compliance status reports, the PUCO staff recommended that companies be allowed to "switch to an obligation based upon actual load in the given compliance year."

The comprehensive report features a wealth of data, including the following statistics:

2012 EDU & CRES Compliance: Non-Solar Renewable Resource (In-State)
45 percent – biomass
37 percent – wind
15 percent – hydro
3 percent – coal mine methane (CMM)

2012 CRES Compliance: Non-Solar Renewable Resource (In-State)

72 percent – biomass
24 percent – hydro
4 percent – wind
0.44 percent – CMM

2012 EDU Compliance: Non-Solar Renewable Resource (In-State)

53 percent – wind
32 percent – biomass
11 percent – hydro
4 percent – CMM

2012 EDU and CRES Compliance: Non-Solar Renewable Resources (Out of State)
55 percent – wind
26 percent – biomass
19 percent – hydro

2012 CRES Compliance: Non-Solar Renewable Resource (Out of State)

72 percent – wind
21 percent – biomass
7 percent – hydro

2012 EDU Compliance: Non-Solar Renewable Resource (Out of State)
61 percent – wind
34 percent – biomass
5 percent – hydro

2012 Out of State Solar Resources Used for Compliance (by State)
99 percent – Pennsylvania
0.93 percent – West Virginia
0.27 percent – Kentucky
0.20 percent – Indiana


 
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Jan 13, 2014

Integrys Energy Services to invest in residential solar as distributed energy trend takes off
 

Integrys Energy Services (IES), a subsidiary of the major utility holding company Integrys Energy Group (TEG), has become the latest traditional power company to join the "growing list of utilities and electricity providers moving into residential solar," Greentech Media reports. Industry analysts say the move "supports a growing trend toward distributed energy sources." IES will make funds available to installers through Clean Power Finance's (CFP) Market – an online business-to-business marketplace for residential solar financing that connects investors and lenders, solar professionals, and distributors and manufacturers. Though it is unknown how much the company will make available in the fund, the company has said that it plans to invest between $40 million to $50 million per year in commercial and residential solar. At this time, IES has no plans to bring the program to Ohio, although the state does have a solar renewable portfolio standard that should encourage growth in that area for the state. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jan 08, 2014

Utility commits to purchase RECs for Super Bowl XLVIII
 

The Super Bowl is going green with the announcement that Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG) – the parent company of PSE&G, which is the utility servicing the new York-New Jersey metro region where Super Bowl XLVIII will be held – has partnered with the NFL Environmental Program to provide green power for the game, North American Windpower reports. For "every megawatt-hour of electricity used to power the event," including electricity used at Met Life Stadium, the AFC and NFC team hotels and at the public event known as Super Bowl Boulevard, PSEG "will purchase and retire one renewable energy credit (REC) on behalf of Super Bowl XLVIII." REC purchases will include New Jersey solar RECs "equal to a four-week output of PSE&G's 3 MW Kearny Solar Farm," with the rest purchased from Community Energy Inc., a certified Green-e Supplier, sourced from the Jersey-Atlantic City Wind Farm, the article said. Super Bowl Sunday will take place on February 2, 2014. For more, read the full story.


 
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Dec 12, 2013

Celina Renewable Energy Center is on target to meet its solar energy generation goal for 2013
 

Having produced 5,600 megawatt hours since it commenced operations on December 22, 2012, the Celina Renewable Energy Center in Mercer County is on track to reach its expected annual production goal of between 6,000 and 6,200 megawatts, The Daily Standard reports. SolarVision of Westerville owns the plant, which cost $18 million and has 21,000 panels with an efficiency rate of 12 to 15 percent. The company secured funding through a partnership of "SolarVision, New Energy Capital Cleantech Infrastructure Fund, Q.CELLS North America, Finance Fund and JP Morgan Chase & Co.," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Dec 12, 2013

Vantage Board of Education's solar energy project has saved the district more than $15,000 in its first three months of operation
 

It was noted in a recent meeting of the Vantage Board of Education in Van Wert County that its solar energy project "saved the district an average of $5,085 a month" in the first three months of operation, The Van Wert Independent reports. Treasurer Lori Davis estimated the savings could reach $61,000 annually if generation holds steady, but Superintendent Staci Kaufman acknowledged that the amount might decrease during the winter months, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Dec 09, 2013

Solar is proving itself to be an inexpensive and unintrusive energy choice for Ohio farmers
 

With ample room and an elevated need for electricity, more and more Ohio farms are becoming home to solar energy installations that are helping farmers cut costs and achieve a degree of stability amid fluctuating energy prices, Farm & Dairy reports. Farmers are able to recover "up to 90 percent" of the cost of such a system through a combination of "a 30 percent federal tax credit, depreciation incentives, a solar renewable energy credit, grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Energy Assistance Program, and any pertinent rebates." At 50 kilowatts, one such system in Huron County produces approximately two-thirds of the farm's needs annually. This particular system is "guaranteed for 25 years" with a return on investment "projected to be three to four years," the article said. The future of funding for the USDA program is currently being debated in Congress as part of the federal farm bill (See our Oct 14, 2013, blog post for more information).

On Tuesday, December 10, the Consortium for Energy, Economics & the Environment (CE3) at Ohio University will host a webinar on energy options for Ohio agriculture (See our Dec 5, 2013, blog post for more information). This free, public webinar will feature experts discussing the range of options available to farmers who are interested in reducing their energy costs as well as their emissions footprints.

For more, read the full story.


 
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Dec 06, 2013

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz outlines a new, three-pronged strategy to take down the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements after putting Sub. S.B. 58 on indefinite hiatus
 

Now that Sub. S.B. 58 is on indefinite hiatus, attention is turning toward Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) – the driving force behind the bill – and his new strategy to weaken the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy standards. Although the senator said that the cancellation of the vote on Wednesday occurred only because there were too many revisions and amendments added to the bill for the House to consider before the end of the year, he outlined a three-pronged strategy to "reform current 'envirosocialist' mandates that have afflicted Ohio ratepayers through hidden charges and fees on their electric bills," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report.

In addition to continuing to "work with parties who have acted honestly and in good faith to find compromise that will facilitate passage of S.B. 58," Seitz said the Senate Public Utilities Committee, which he chairs, will commence extensive hearings on S.B. 34 – Sen. Kris Jordan's (R-Ostrander) proposal to completely repeal the requirement that electric distribution utilities and electric services companies provide 25 percent of their retail power supplies from advanced and renewable energy resources by 2025. Jordan delivered sponsor testimony of S.B. 34, which was first introduced in February, during the Sub. S.B. 58 hearings held on Wednesday, October 9th. Seitz said many in the House pressured him to "simply end the mandates now" since "an orderly transition from the current central government planning model to free markets" proved inordinately difficult, the article said.

Finally, Seitz plans to challenge in court the mandate that 12.5 percent of the renewable energy requirement comes from in-state sources, which he has long described as unconstitutional (See our Nov 26, 2013, blog post for more information). The senator said that "California, Massachusetts and Minnesota have abandoned their in-state mandates in recognition of the constitutional problem," with lawsuits challenging similar requirements currently pending in Colorado and North Dakota. In particular, Seitz is relying on a federal circuit court of appeals opinion delivered in June that said Michigan's in-state mandate "faced an insurmountable obstacle under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution," the article said.
 
In the case, Illinois Commerce Commission v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 11-3421, et al. (7th Cir. June 7, 2013), attorneys for the State of Michigan, DTE Energy and Consumer Energy were originally trying to be exempt from "paying a share of the cost of the transmission facilities" due to the state's in-state renewable energy production mandate, according to Michigan Capitol Confidential. Based on their argument, Judge Richard Posner wrote, "Michigan cannot, without violating the commerce clause of Article I of the Constitution, discriminate against out-of-state renewable energy." Since the state's renewable energy requirements were not the matter put before the court, the judge's dicta opinion stands as editorializing and "does not overturn any part of the Michigan law." Regardless, his statement "could lead to challenges of similar requirements that artificially favor in-state renewable energy producers in other states as well," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 27, 2013

Recently passed electric aggregation initiative could help Athens County reach a deal with the Turning Point Solar project
 

The passage of an electric aggregation initiative in Athens County could serve to increase the possibility of Ohio University striking a deal with Turning Point Solar, a "potentially large-scale power project in Noble County," Ohio University's The Post reports (See our Oct 15, 2013, blog post for more information). Although the university is contractually committed to its current power purchase arrangement through December 2015, the recently passed initiative "gives citizens more power to control where their energy comes from and dictate the price." For more information about electric aggregation, visit the Bricker & Eckler Energy & Public Utilities webpage.


 
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Nov 26, 2013

Final version of Sub. S.B. 58 delayed in an effort to improve its language
 

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) said yesterday that the final hearing and vote on Sub. S.B. 58, the highly contentious effort to scale back Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws, was not canceled last Wednesday due to political pressure, but to allow the legislature time to make sure that the legislation is drafted exactly as intended, The Plain Dealer reports (See our Nov 14, 2013, blog post for more information). As a result, "the bill will not show up in the utilities committee until Dec. 4 at the earliest," meaning Seitz's previously stated goal to "get the legislation through the Senate before the end of the year" is unlikely to be met. Although the bill might not be available until then, Seitz did outline the main points of what he considers a reasonable compromise:

  • The requirement that 12.5 percent of the power that utilities sell in the state must be produced from renewable sources by 2025 would remain completely intact; however, the requirement that Ohio-based wind farms supply half of the state's renewable power by 2025, which Seitz considers unconstitutional, would only remain in place until 2016. After that date, "power from Ohio wind farms get a slight preference under Ohio's Buy Ohio law, in which Ohio products are chosen over out-of-state if they are no more than five percent more costly."
  • In an effort to allow out-of-state wind energy that is "actually 'deliverable,'" the final legislation is expected to delete language allowing allowing Ohio utilities to fulfill renewable energy requirements by purchasing Canadian hydropower, and replace it with language allowing utilities to "purchase wind power from anywhere within the power grid managed by Philadelphia-based PJM Interconnection."
  • The amount of bonuses that utilities can reward to themselves for meeting energy efficiency requirements and assisting customers with energy efficiency measures would be capped at this year's rate, a step back from the original substitute bill, which would have allowed utilities to pay themselves "a bonus of up to 33 percent of the value of the efficiency upgrades" they helped customers put in place.
  • What utilities are allowed to count toward their energy efficiency requirements would be expanded to include "improvements in efficiency they made to their distribution lines... and to their power plants."
  • Major power users would be able to opt out of the energy efficiency requirements so that they "don't have to pay the rate increases the utilities charge customers to pay for such programs." Also, the amount utilities can spend on these programs would be capped at this year's rate, and possibly "spread further to include smaller companies" to compensate for the money lost from excluding the larger power consumers.
  • "The solar 'cut-out' for renewable energy, 0.5 percent of all power sold," would remain in place.
  • The way industrial power use is calculated would be altered, and their consumption would not count toward the state's total consumption rate. As a result, this "would make it easier for the electric utilities to reduce total consumption of power by 22 percent by 2025."
For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 25, 2013

Ohio Ballot Board approves green energy amendment issue to collect signatures for the November 2014 ballot
 

For the second time, the Ohio Ballot Board has approved a constitutional amendment issue submitted by a group called Yes for Ohio's Energy Future after Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine certified that the group had "met an initial signature requirement and that their summary of the issue included on their petitions was a fair and truthful statement," The Columbus Dispatch and Northeast Ohio Media Group report. The issue calls for "the state to issue general obligation bonds to finance a 10-year program of $1.3 billion for each year to improve energy infrastructure – including wind, solar, battery, biomass and geothermal sources," Northeast Ohio Media Group reports. After the meeting during which the issue was approved, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted, chairman of the ballot board, advised voters to vote against it, saying it would "put people (in the state of) Delaware in charge of Ohio's economic development," The Dispatch reports. Under the amendment, the state's green energy investments would be controlled by the Ohio Energy Initiative Commission, which was "incorporated in the state of Delaware in January 2012. Delaware law shields the identities of investors and corporate officers in such cases." If petitioners meet the signature requirements, the issue will be on the November 2014 ballot. For more, read the full Columbus Dispatch and Northeast Ohio Media Group stories, as well as the full text of the proposal.


 
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Nov 22, 2013

SEC's proposed rules on crowdfunding could have far-reaching implications for small-scale renewable energy projects
 

The Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) recently proposed rules for crowdfunding had been eagerly anticipated ever since President Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act into law in 2012, which "created an exemption under securities laws for crowdfunding," RenewableEnergyWorld.com reports. The funding model is gaining in popularity and involves financing projects by collecting small amounts of money from a large number of people as opposed to just a few major investors.

Although now under a 90-day comment period, the proposed rules as they stand have the potential to "help solve delays common in formal full-blown SEC registration and disclosure" procedures for small businesses and entrepreneurs. They could also make it easier for renewable energy companies to "raise start-up capital or additional capital because they can offer investors a return on investment."

The impact of crowdfunding will likely be less significant for wind projects since they generally feature single turbine costs that are "well over the dollar limit" for crowdfunding. The California-based company Mosaic, however, is leading the way and having notable success in crowdfunding solar energy projects. Individuals can invest as little as $25 toward financing loans for owners and developers of solar energy systems, CFO.com reports. Mosaic "generates revenue from interest on the loans, and investors pay an annual fee equal to one percent of their total investment." These investors get monthly principal-and-interest payments that are "also funded by the developers' loan repayments."

The model is gaining ground for various projects and fundraisers in Ohio, but investor crowdfunding cooled throughout the state somewhat when the Ohio Department of Commerce's Division of Securities garnered national media attention for opening an investigation into Social Mobile Local Lending (SoMoLend) and its CEO in August. Among other things, the organization is currently under investigation for allegedly "making fraudulent financial projections; false and misleading statements regarding current and past performance; and false and misleading statements about [the company's] relationships with banks and other institutions," Cincinnati Enquirer reports (See our Aug 21, 2013, DevelopOhio blog post for more information).


 
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Nov 19, 2013

Construction of the Toledo Zoo solar project is underway
 

National contractor Rudolph/Libbe recently broke ground on a 2-megawatt solar array from which the Toledo Zoo has agreed to "purchase enough power to supply approximately 30 percent of its electrical energy needs," according to the Toledo Free Press (See our June 26, 2013, blog post for more information). The solar project, which is scheduled for completion in early to mid-2014, includes the remediation of a 22-acre brownfield site located near the zoo. Though a national contractor, local resources beyond union labor are being employed for this project. "The project will be built using Calyxo solar modules, which use innovative thin-film technology developed in Toledo. Nextronex Inc. of Toledo is providing inverters, combiner boxes and distributed architecture for the solar array. Alex Products, of Ridgeville Corners, is supplying steel racks for the solar modules," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 14, 2013

Duke Energy is researching the best way for its regulated utilities to add solar to their generation portfolio
 

Charlotte-based Duke Energy recently formed a group to determine how best its regulated utilities can begin producing solar generating capacity, the Charlotte Business Journal reports. Since its inception six years ago, Duke Energy Renewables, an unregulated unit of the company, has been "an increasingly important player in wind and solar energy." Despite this, Duke's regulated utilities, which cover Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina, are only "minor players" in the renewable energy sector. The newly formed group will be charged with determining whether it makes the best business sense for the company to add solar to its regulated utilities' generation portfolio "through utilities' ownership of the solar capacity, building their own projects or establishing partnerships," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 13, 2013

Event in Wooster aims to educate farmers, businesses and other organizations about cost-effective alternative energy resource options
 

Ohio State University's 2013 Renewable Energy Workshop will take place on November 19 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster. The event is designed to educate farmers, businesses and organizations about the alternative energy resources available to them, as well as "the opportunities that exist to implement cost-effective and sustainable energy-generation projects," Southern Farmer reports. The event will feature "presentations by university and industry experts as well as tours highlighting a variety of alternative energy sources, including biogas, wind, solar and biomass." Since the federal farm bill expired in September, the U.S. House and Senate have been debating different approaches to funding the Rural Energy for America Program, which helps farms and small businesses across rural America transition to renewable energy sources (See our Oct 14, 2013, blog post for more information). For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 06, 2013

Bricker & Eckler attorney Thomas Siwo discusses current energy legislation in Ohio
 

During a recent Energy Exchange seminar in Columbus, Bricker & Eckler attorney Thomas Siwo presented a legislative update on key energy issues that are currently being addressed in the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives, including Sub. S.B. 58 – Sen. Bill Seitz's (R-Cincinnati) proposal to scale back the state's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws. For more, watch the full video.


 
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Nov 05, 2013

Ohio's largest utilities appear to support Sub. S.B. 58
 

Although they had different positions on Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp.'s attempts to eliminate the state's energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy requirements last year, it appears that Ohio's largest, investor-owned utilities support Sub. S.B. 58, which is Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz's (R-Cincinnati) proposal to scale back those requirements, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. American Electric Power-Ohio (AEP-Ohio) and Duke Energy publicly support the bill, while the Dayton Power & Light Company has yet to comment. Opponents claim that these utilities support Sub. S.B. 58 because it includes language that would "allow them to keep 33 percent of customers' net EE savings as incentive payments without doing much to reduce electricity consumption," the article said. This measure, however, is one that Seitz specifically mentioned amending in response to critics (See our Oct 24, 2013, blog post for more information).


 
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Nov 04, 2013

Two reports rank Ohio poorly for in-state renewable energy generating capacity and power plant pollution
 

A new report from the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) ranks Ohio last "among 12 Midwestern states for [total] electricity generation capacity from renewable energy sources," Columbus Business First reports. The report, "Renewable Energy in the 50 States," includes the following in its installed renewable energy capacity: wind power, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal electric, geothermal power, hydropower, marine power, biomass and waste, ethanol and biodiesel. Only in the area of generating capacity from solar did Ohio rank well: the report found solar installations to be on the rise in Ohio, with 25 MW of new capacity added in 2012, giving the state the designation of having "the largest amount of installed solar energy capacity in the Midwest."

Meanwhile, the Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center released a report that ranked Ohio second only to Texas for "most carbon pollution from its power plants," the Aurora Advocate reports. The report, "America's Dirtiest Power Plants," found that Ohio's power plants are "responsible for 48 percent of statewide emissions and produce as much carbon each year as 25.2 million cars."


 
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Oct 31, 2013

Toledo Museum of Art installs a 300-kilowatt solar panel canopy and 135 LED bulbs
 

The Toledo Museum of Art's 20-year effort to reduce its energy usage and be more energy efficient is finally coming to fruition, The Blade reports. The museum's new main parking lot "features an estimated 300-kilowatt solar panel canopy," which is owned by a third party that sells the power back to the museum. As part of the effort, the museum recently installed 135 LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs in its early modern Japanese prints exhibit. The cost savings for LED bulbs are well known by now, but what's surprising is that LED technology has finally advanced to a point where their lighting quality "helps preserve the delicate artwork and enhances the pristine, vivid colors of the prints," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 22, 2013

Advanced Distributed Generations solar panel manufacturer moves to Maumee to expand
 

Advanced Distributed Generations (ADS), a solar panel manufacturer, has left its space at the University of Toledo's Scott Park to return to the city of Maumee, Toledo News Now reports. The company, which started in Maumee 15 years ago, is expanding into a larger space and plans to hire additional employees. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 17, 2013

PUCO report indicates that wind and solar have already slightly reduced customer bills
 

A report issued by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently "indicates wind and solar power have already slightly reduced customer bills," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Interpretations of the report were discussed as part of the greater debate over Sub. S.B. 58, which is Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz's (R-Cincinnati) proposal to revise the state's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws. The report, "Renewable Resources and Wholesale Price Suppression," admits that the study was only an attempt to "quantify the price suppression effects that are associated with new utility-scale renewable projects and does not purport to comprise an overall cost-benefit analysis of these projects." Using cost modeling software to analyze the wholesale price of electricity with and without the RPS, the report found that "the renewable facilities currently operating in Ohio will reduce the megawatt-hour cost by 0.15 percent in 2014 and generate a total savings of $8.3 million." For more, read the full report.


 
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Oct 16, 2013

U.S. House subcommittee held a hearing on extending the production tax credit (PTC)
 

The federal production tax credit (PTC) was the subject of a hearing held by the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements earlier this month, North American Windpower reports (See our July 13, 2013, blog post for more information). Supporters of extending the credit pointed to the economic growth windpower has brought to rural communities, as well as the boost to the domestic manufacturing industry due to turbine production. Opponents said the sector has received enough assistance and should be able to survive on its own by now. Supporters countered that the federal government continues to provide subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, and that discontinuing the PTC is illogical in light of the support given to an industry that "long been mature and profitable," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 15, 2013

Ohio University officials work to promote the proposed Turning Point Solar project
 

After deciding that the renewable choices offered by FirstEnergy Corp. were too expensive, Ohio University officials chose the standard portfolio mix that the utility offered, Ohio University's The Post reports. Now, some university officials are working to realize a deal for the Turning Point Solar project. San Francisco-based Agile Energy is sponsoring the project, which hopes to bring a locally provided source of energy to the Athens campus. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 14, 2013

Congress debates funding for the Rural Energy for America Program as part of the farm bill
 

The Associated Press recently provided an update on the debate surrounding the federal farm bill, which the U.S. House of Representatives unexpectedly defeated in June (See our June 24, 2013, blog post for more information). The farm bill expired at the end of September, and the House and Senate versions vary in their approaches to funding the decade-old Agriculture Department's Rural Energy for America Program, which is helping farms and small businesses across rural America turn to renewable energy. "The House version of the farm bill limits the program's funding to $45 million a year and designates it as 'discretionary,' meaning the program might or might not get it. The Senate version would provide $68 million annually in mandatory funds with a possible $20 million a year in discretionary money," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 11, 2013

Solar-powered house to be assembled as part of the Frank Lloyd Wright museum in Springfield
 

As part of its rebranding as the Westcott Center for Architecture and Design, the organization that spent $5.8 million over the last decade to restore Frank Lloyd Wright's only Prairie Style home in Ohio plans to assemble a solar-powered house designed and built by Norwich University of Vermont, Springfield News-Sun reports. The solar house – called the Delta-T90 – will be used "as a learning lab and a place to demonstrate clean energy technology, adding a permanent extra dimension to Westcott, which has been open as a museum since 2005." The organization regards the solar house as existing in the spirit of Wright, who designed energy efficient homes and "sought to alter the environment as little as possible with his buildings," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 09, 2013

FirstEnergy Corp. looks to buy 2013 solar and renewable energy credits for its Pennsylvania utilities
 

Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. announced that it is issuing a request for proposals to purchase 13,500 solar photovoltaic alternative energy certificates (SPAECs) annually over a 10-year period for its Pennsylvania utilities – Metropolitan Edison Company, Pennsylvania Electric Company and Pennsylvania Power Company, Fox19.com reports.


 
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Oct 04, 2013

Solar installations set to outpace wind in 2013 for the first time ever
 

A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) predicts that this year will be the first year in the history of the renewable energy market that solar will add more megawatts of capacity than wind, North American Windpower reports. The report predicts that 35.5 GW of wind farms will be added globally in 2013, compared to "its median forecast of 36.7 GW of new solar PV [photovoltaic] capacity." Policy uncertainty in the United States and China is blamed for the decline in wind installations, while the "dramatic cost reductions in PV, combined with new incentive regimes in Japan and China, are driving solar installation growth," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 02, 2013

Report highlights the growth of the renewable energy industry
 

A new report from Colorado-based Renewable Choice Energy determined that over the past 15 years, "energy generation from cleaner power sources has been steadily increasing at the same time that fossil fuel consumption has been in decline." The report, titled "How Renewables are Winning," said that when U.S. renewable energy capacity doubled between 2009 and 2012, it became "one of the leading sources of electricity generation in the first six months of the year," North American Windpower reports. According to the report, both wind and solar are benefiting from a combination of "rising awareness of the impacts of climate change, relative higher prices for coal, advances in technology, and sharply falling prices. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 01, 2013

Utility executives offer competing views on the extent of future renewable power use in the United States
 

During the 2013 Bank of America/Merrill-Lynch Power and Gas Leaders Conference in New York last week, executives from Akron-based FirstEnergy and NextEra Energy Resources disputed the "extent of renewables penetration into the U.S. power supply," Platts reports. FirstEnergy, which led the industry charge against Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency laws, said that the world cannot survive on green energy alone and that "the more renewables you have the more reserve margin you need." Meanwhile, NextEra, which "bills itself as a 'clean energy' company and the largest wind and solar generator in North America," maintained that renewables are an energy resource and "the utility industry needs to get its head around a paradigm where you're going to have some intermittent supply and some intermittent demands," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Sep 25, 2013

Ohio attorney general announces groundbreaking lawsuits aiming to recover more than $10 million in state aid from economic development award recipient
 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently announced two lawsuits that his office filed in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas – one on behalf of the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) and the other on behalf of the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA) – in an effort to recover "more than $10 million in state development loans," plus interest, from the Perrysburg-based Willard & Kelsey Solar Group, The Columbus Dispatch and Cincinnati Enquirer report. The lawsuits allege that the company breached its state economic development award agreements by failing to create the required 450 jobs. The lawsuits also allege the company engaged in improper business practices, including that it "failed to maintain distinct checking accounts separate from the shareholders and failed to obtain the necessary certifications to legally sell its products," The Dispatch reports. The lawsuits mark the most significant public effort in recent years to enforce the terms of state economic development award agreements. For more, read the full Columbus Dispatch story and the complaint.


 
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Sep 18, 2013

FirstEnergy Corp. looks to buy 2013 solar and renewable energy credits
 

Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. announced that it is issuing a request for proposals to purchase both In-State and All-State Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), as well as both In-State and All-State Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) for its three Ohio Utilities – Cleveland Electric Illuminating, Ohio Edison and Toledo Edison. The following amounts and locations are being sought:

  • 100 SRECs generated in Ohio;
  • 6,500 SRECs generated in Ohio or states contiguous to Ohio;
  • 120,000 RECs generated in Ohio; and
  • 145,000 RECs generated in Ohio or states contiguous to Ohio.
For more, read the full press release.


 
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Sep 13, 2013

Increased interest prompts extension of the Ohio DSA's Qualified Energy Project Tax Credit Exemption program
 

Increased interest in the Ohio Development Services Agency's (DSA) Qualified Energy Project Tax Credit Exemption resulted in an extension of the program in the recently passed biennial budget, according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Solar and wind energy industries "had argued that Ohio's tax rate was too high compared to neighboring states and would stymie renewable energy development," so the program enables alternative energy developers to "pay a fixed payment per megawatt of electricity with the revenue flowing to local governments." Passed in 2010, the program received two applications in 2010 and 2011, nine applications in 2012 and 10 so far this year. For more information, visit this DSA webpage.


 
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Sep 10, 2013

Cincinnati entrepreneur launches Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to develop the GoSun Stove
 

Unable to secure support through some of Cincinnati's startup incubators, entrepreneur Patrick Sherwin recently "launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign that seeks to raise $40,000 by October 27" to help develop his invention, WCPO.com reports. Sherwin invented the GoSun Stove – a $279 fuel-free cooking device that only weighs four pounds and can "bake, fry and boil food using only the sun's energy." In addition to appealing to outdoor enthusiasts, the GoSun Stove can also help reduce the number of people who "die prematurely from indoor air pollution caused by open fires and leaky stoves," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Aug 19, 2013

Beach City in Stark County begins drawing power from Solar Planet's new 2,500-panel array
 

Village leaders in Stark County's Beach City supplied four acres of land for Worthington-based Solar Planet to construct a $2 million solar field with 2,500 panels, and are now engaged in a "25-year agreement to buy electricity from the solar array at a rate not to exceed the average cost of the other power sources in its portfolio," CantonRep.com reports. The village chose to pursue the project to reduce its carbon footprint and also because having a local array will reduce the village's energy costs. At full capacity, the array can generate enough electricity to power approximately one fifth of the village utility's usage, or 625 kW of electricity, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Aug 16, 2013

Levin Furniture to install solar system atop its Mentor store
 

Pennsylvania-based retailer Levin Furniture announced this week that its store in Mentor, Lake County, will "have a rooftop solar system in place by Thanksgiving," Crain's Cleveland Business reports. Third Sun Solar of Athens, Ohio, will "design and build the 65-kilowatt system," which will generate about 10 percent of the store's annual energy needs and reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 61 tons. For more, read the full story.


 
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Aug 15, 2013

IPS Energy Ventures sues the city of Toledo alleging breach of contract for solar energy field project
 

This week, Maumee-based IPS Energy Ventures LLC filed a lawsuit against the city of Toledo in Lucas County Common Pleas Court alleging the city breached a contract for the construction of a solar energy field in East Toledo by "failing to compensate for the difference between the amount IPS sold the federal solar renewable energy certificates [RECs] created by the project for in 2012 and the rate agreed upon by Toledo," The Blade reports.


 
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Aug 13, 2013

Solar array atop Athens public library to begin producing electricity today
 

Today, 224 solar panels atop the roof of the Athens County Public Libraries system's Athens city branch will begin producing enough electricity to provide for approximately one third of the building's energy needs, Ohio University's The Post reports. Athens-based Third Sun Solar designed and installed the solar panels, which are expected to produce 75,240 kilowatt-hours of clean electricity, the article said. For more, read the full story and visit the library system's blog.


 
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Aug 12, 2013

$8 million solar array goes online in Auglaize County
 

Residents of Wapakoneta in Auglaize County gathered last week to celebrate the opening of an $8 million, 13,000 solar panel project that will provide three megawatts of electricity to the city at a fixed rate, Your Hometown Lima Stations reports. Worthington-based Solar Planet, Inc., installed the panels, and "maintains ownership of the property and the solar panels." For more, read the full story.


 
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Aug 01, 2013

PUCO delays decision in FirstEnergy Corp.'s renewable energy rebates case until next week
 

Yesterday, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) voted to delay action in its case to determine whether Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. "overpaid for renewable energy credits and passed those excess costs on to customers," The Associated Press reports (See our Aug 23, 2012, blog post for more information). PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler said the delay is to allow time for the commission to "fine tune" its order. In June, the Ohio Power Company Corp. (AEP Ohio) moved late to intervene and request that the proceeding be reopened, saying it had "extraordinary circumstances" under which such a motion should be allowed. In its motion to intervene, AEP Ohio said the "nature of the issues involved in the case progressed beyond a limited audit of FirstEnergy Companies' rider and now involve significant energy-wide questions relating to compliance with renewable standards." The company seeks to address "gaps in information provided the commission" with regard to methods used by other utilities "that have operated in [the] same market" as FirstEnergy and were "able to manage costs." Confidentiality claims made by FirstEnergy with regard to portions of audit reports have prevented AEP Ohio and other utilities from discussing the details of the overcharges. For more, read the full story.


 
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Aug 01, 2013

PUCO delays decision in FirstEnergy Corp.'s renewable energy rebates case until next week
 

Yesterday, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) voted to delay action in its case to determine whether Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. "overpaid for renewable energy credits and passed those excess costs on to customers," The Associated Press reports (See our Aug 23, 2012, blog post for more information). PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler said the delay is to allow time for the commission to "fine tune" its order. In June, the Ohio Power Company Corp. (AEP Ohio) moved late to intervene and request that the proceeding be reopened, saying it had "extraordinary circumstances" under which such a motion should be allowed. In its motion to intervene, AEP Ohio said the "nature of the issues involved in the case progressed beyond a limited audit of FirstEnergy Companies' rider and now involve significant energy-wide questions relating to compliance with renewable standards." The company seeks to address "gaps in information provided the commission" with regard to methods used by other utilities "that have operated in [the] same market" as FirstEnergy and were "able to manage costs." Confidentiality claims made by FirstEnergy with regard to portions of audit reports have prevented AEP Ohio and other utilities from discussing the details of the overcharges. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jul 25, 2013

Companies announce completion of Ohio's largest residential solar array
 

Georgia-based MAGE SOLAR and Ohio-based YellowLite, Inc. announced that its recently completed, 59.5 kW solar array in Columbus is "the largest residential solar array in the state of Ohio to date." Most home solar array systems range in size from 5 to 8 kW. This solar array is expected to generate over 66,000 kW of clean energy annually, which will offset 79,200 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions while "producing the energy value of $7,330 in the first year alone." For more, read the full press release.


 
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Jul 23, 2013

Willard & Kelsey Solar Group executives have until Aug. 12 to account for $1.3 million of a $5 million state loan
 

A year after it was ordered by the state, an audit of the now defunct Willard & Kelsey Solar Group out of Perrysburg concluded that the company cannot produce receipts or invoices for $1.3 million of a $5 million loan it received from the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA), The Blade reports. Accounting records show that the money was given to two other companies owned by Willard & Kelsey President Jim Appold – E-Z Pak Co. and Consolidated Biscuit Co. The company's executives "have until Aug. 12 to provide the state with information about the expenditures in question, in addition to explaining why the company used $510,324 from its loan to purchase equipment not covered under its state contract." The audit followed allegations that part of the loan was used for executive compensation in violation of the terms of its terms (See our July 03, 2013, blog post for more information). The company closed permanently on June 30, 2013, and is, in addition to being entangled in multiple legal issues, also indebted to the state for $12 million after having defaulted on two loans, the article said.


 
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Jul 18, 2013

Solar panels help new facility become the first University of Cincinnati building to rely entirely on renewable energy
 

Among the technology used to minimize the environmental impact of the University of Cincinnati's recently opened Court Archaeological Research Facility (CARF) at the Cincinnati Center for Field Studies is a solar array of 20 panels that will also enable the facility to, at times, provide electricity back to the grid, the university announced. Milford-based Icon Solar designed and installed the array. The facility is the university's first building that can run entirely on renewable energy. For more, read the full press release.


 
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Jul 17, 2013

Report advises energy sector to make "water-smart" choices when replacing older power plants
 

A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists concludes that federal environmental regulations and an influx of cheap, domestic natural gas are driving the energy sector to undergo its most significant transition in the last half century. The report, "Water-Smart Power: Strengthening the U.S. Electricity System in a Warming World," says that the decisions that energy companies make now regarding the replacement of old power plants are critical to preserving water resources and minimizing effects on climate change in the future. Power-generating companies that elect to replace coal-fired power plants with ones that burn natural gas are going to be "at risk in the long term" of contributing to significant problems with regard to climate and water because traditional power generation depends heavily on water, as does the hydraulic fracturing process often used to recover the gas. Wind, solar and other renewable forms of energy do not depend heavily on water and, therefore, they and energy efficiency measures have the potential to dramatically reduce carbon emissions and water use should they be elected to replace these plants, the report said. For more, read the full report.


 
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Jul 13, 2013

One-year extension of the production tax credit leaves lingering uncertainty in the U.S. renewable energy market
 

Although the renewable energy industry hailed the one-year extension granted to the production tax credit (PTC) at the end of last year, they find that its short-term length is inspiring little confidence in the market as speculations build as to whether it will be extended again, North American Windpower reports. Despite the PTC extension, which was intended to provide business certainty for wind, solar and other renewable energy developers in 2013, "orders have come to a standstill." The extension's eleventh-hour implementation as well as a change in the program's definition are also responsible for its limited impact (See our June 12, 2013, blog post for more information). For more, read the full story.


 
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Jul 11, 2013

PUCO report: Ohio's electric companies complied with the state's renewable energy laws in 2011
 

A report released last week by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) – "Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard Report: 2011 Compliance Year" – found that Ohio's four investor-owned electric utilities complied with the state's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) in 2011. That year marked the third year the companies had been subject to the state's AEPS. PUCO Chairman Todd Snitchler said that the cost of renewable energy credits (RECs) has been "manageable" so far, and that electric companies have been aided by the fact that they are exempt from these requirements should the cost of compliance exceed three percent of "the cost of producing electricity from traditional sources," according to the Gongwer Ohio Report. Snitchler also said that compliance may become more difficult as the "benchmarks become increasingly stringent each year," but that small-scale solar projects are helping to maintain an adequate supply of in-state RECs.


 
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Jul 06, 2013

Granville residents consider a community-owned solar array
 

Granville-area residents met recently to discuss the possibility of constructing a community-owned solar power generating system at the former site of the Bryn Mawr Restaurant, Newark Advocate reports. The co-op, which would require its members to pool resources to invest in the project and then "commit to purchase the power produced by the co-op's array," would be more accessible than a home system for those living in shady areas, renting or planning to move at some point, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jul 05, 2013

Report: natural gas and renewables can function as complementary power sources
 

A new report from Massachusetts-based consulting services and expert testimony firm The Brattle Group found that natural gas and renewable energy sources are better positioned to complement each other rather than compete, POWER magazine reports. The report was limited to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region, but concluded that renewables are generally called upon first – despite natural gas prices – because they have the lowest variable cost, and that using renewable energy with natural gas could reduce price fluctuations for customers. For more, read the full story and report.


 
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Jul 04, 2013

Clintonville in Transition to host program on solar energy options for the community
 

The Clintonville branch of an international organization is hosting a program to help inform area residents about viable solar energy options for their homes that will include a discussion about "the possibility of options for creating solar co-ops in the community," ThisWeek Community News reports. Called Clintonville in Transition, the group is part of the Transition Network, which "supports community-led responses to climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy" and was started in Ireland in early 2005. The group's program, "Solar Options for the Community: Clintonville and Beyond," takes place from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on July 22 in the meeting room of the Columbus Metropolitan Library – Whetstone branch. There is no cost or advanced registration required to attend. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jul 03, 2013

Last backer ceases support of the Willard & Kelsey Solar Group in Perrysburg
 

The sole remaining backer behind the Perrysburg-based solar company Willard & Kelsey ceased paying the company's bills this week, leading some to believe that the troubled company may finally be on the verge of closing completely, The Toledo Blade reports. One reason the company, formed in 2007, was unable to become a commercial success was because its production line never reached the level necessary to achieve a profit. Willard & Kelsey defaulted on $12 million in state loans last fall, "owes millions more to suppliers" and "faces a slew of lawsuits," but representatives for the company say it could potentially reopen it it receives an order from India, the article said (See our Sep 14, 2012, blog post for more information).


 
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Jun 30, 2013

New Carnegie Mellon University report concludes that wind and solar power have the greatest climate and health benefits in the eastern United States
 

A new report by four experts from Carnegie Mellon University's Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making found that wind and solar plants in Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania achieve greater health and climate benefits than similar installations elsewhere in the county, a press release from the university announced. The report, "Regional Variations in the Health, Environment and Climate Benefits of Wind and Solar Generation," determined that "a wind turbine in West Virginia displaces twice as much carbon dioxide and seven times as much health damage as the same turbine in California" because wind and solar installations in this tri-state area "replace electricity generated by coal plants." For more, read the full press release.


 
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Jun 29, 2013

President Obama's climate change action plan calls for more renewable energy and energy efficiency
 

In his climate change action plan released on Tuesday, President Barack Obama directed the Department of the Interior to permit enough renewable energy projects on public lands by 2020 to power more than six million homes, North American Windpower reports. The plan consists of three main components: reducing carbon pollution, preparing state and local governments for climate change, and leading international efforts to reduce carbon pollution. The plan also sets a new goal to "install 100 megawatts of renewables on federally assisted housing by 2020" and maintains the commitment to deploy renewables on military installations. For more, read the full story and President Obama's Climate Action Plan Fact Sheet.


 
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Jun 28, 2013

OSU Extension program provides advice on renewable energy production
 

As part of its Energize Ohio program, the Ohio State University Extension is offering training and other educational resources to Ohio farms, schools and businesses that are considering installing systems to generate renewable energy, LimaOhio.com reports. A recent workshop in Findlay co-sponsored by JobsOhio featured companies that had "recently implemented distributed energy projects at their facilities," as well as representatives from the university, the Ohio Treasurer's Office, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), the Toledo Port Authority, One Energy LLC and Vaughn Industries. For more, read the full story and access the complete Findlay workshop.


 
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Jun 26, 2013

Private investors and the Toledo Zoo are working on a power purchase agreement for a solar array planned nearby
 

Rudolph/Libbe, a full-service, national contractor, and other private investors are working to structure a power purchase agreement with the Toledo Zoo to supply 30 percent of the zoo's energy needs from a nearby solar array, The Blade reports. The investor group formed Anthony Wayne Solar Number 1, LLC, to sell energy to the zoo that will be generated at a planned "2-megawatt solar array on a 22-acre vacant plot northeast of the zoo" – where an abandoned industrial eyesore mars the zoo's entrance. The array will have about 25,000 solar panels on 15 acres of the 22-acre site, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jun 25, 2013

This year's efforts to repeal or reduce states' renewable energy standards were largely unsuccessful
 

With most 2013 legislative sessions now adjourned or waning, Stateline, the daily news of the Pew Charitable Trusts, reports that "no state this year repealed its renewable energy requirement, lowered its percentage mandate or extended utilities’ deadlines for meeting it," despite strong efforts by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other groups to get such legislation passed. Currently, mandates are in place for 29 states and the District of Columbia. In 2011 and 2012, 50 bills were proposed to weaken existing renewable energy laws. Only five succeeded, but "none dramatically changed the policy," the article said (See our May 07, 2013, blog post – "It may be months before revisions to Ohio's energy efficiency and renewable energy laws are proposed"). These efforts have failed in part due to some conservative legislators finding themselves unable to deny the jobs and other economic benefits that the renewable energy industry has brought to their states. In addition, because passage of the energy standards requires "cooperation from a broad array of interest groups," including environmentalists, manufacturers, farmers, utilities and more, few are eager to change the standards now that they're in place. Major utilities in general "rarely push for repeals or watering down mandates – even if they opposed the initial policy" because they would rather "not change course after shifting resources toward compliance," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jun 18, 2013

Western Reserve Port Authority pursues Energy Special Improvement District designation to help Southern Park Mall in Boardman with efficiency upgrades
 

Last month, the Western Reserve Port Authority (WRPA) board voted to retain bond counsel to prepare documentation that would create an Energy Special Improvement District (ESID) for Southern Park Mall in Boardman, The Vindicator reports. Creating the district would allow the Boardman Township to issue Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) bonds to finance energy efficiency improvements for the mall, which the mall's owner, Simon Properties, would then pay for "through a special assessment on its property taxes." If approved by the township trustees, the ESID designation would enable Simon Properties to finance the improvements using low-interest bonds that have "low or no upfront costs" and a collection period that spreads out over 30 years, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jun 17, 2013

7th Circuit Court of Appeals: state renewable energy laws that discriminate against out-of-state sources violate the Constitution
 

Last week, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Michigan's Clean, Renewable and Efficient Energy Act violated the commerce clause of Article I of the Constitution when it prohibited out-of-state renewables from counting toward the utilities' requirement that they provide customers "with at least 10 percent of renewable energy by 2015," E&E Greenwire reports. Utilities and state regulators accused the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) of "unfairly spreading the cost of new, high-voltage power lines needed to move remote solar and wind to market" with its 2011 approval of the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator's (MISO) program. Michigan argued that because the state "obtains very little power from MISO's extensive footprint in the Midwest," which it cannot use toward its renewable energy requirement, its utilities should "only have to pay for local generation and transmission lines." Most states' renewable energy laws specifically favor in-state generation, and this decision could serve as a legal marker for wind or solar developers "being barred from lucrative markets" because they are located in another state, the article said.
 
The court also rejected the Illinois Commerce Commission's assertion that FERC unfairly forces MISO customers to shoulder the financial burden of "multi value projects" (MVP), the standards for which the plaintiffs argued are "too loose." In order to qualify, these projects "must cost at least $20 million and either help boost reliability, meet renewable energy requirements or provide economic benefits," the article said. The judges said that because it is difficult to consider the future benefits of renewable power, it is not enough for Illinois to simply argue that "MISO's and FERC's attempt to match the benefits of the MVP program is crude."
 
For more, read the full story and decision.


 
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Jun 14, 2013

U.S. Senate passes farm bill that includes millions in funding for rural renewable energy and energy efficiency projects
 

This week, the U.S. Senate voted to pass the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013. The first comprehensive farm bill since 2008, it includes funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Energy for American Program (REAP), which "provides grants and loans to help rural businesses and agricultural procedures invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives, including solar and small wind projects," North American Windpower reports. The bill's budgeted at $955 billion over 10 years, including "$68.2 million in mandatory REAP funding and $20 million in appropriated REAP funding annually for fiscal years 2014 through 2018." For more, read the full story and the full text of S. 954.


 
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Jun 11, 2013

Utilities seek changes to the pricing structure for customers with rooftop solar energy systems
 

Because solar panels have become more economically viable and increasingly widespread during the last few decades, utility companies are now seeking to change the net energy metering pricing structure by arguing that "customers without solar panels are subsidizing those who have them," The Washington Post reports. They say that the dramatic increase in rooftop solar energy systems among their electricity customers has created a "shifting-of-costs issue" wherein those with solar energy systems pay less for the "power generating systems, transmission lines and distribution wires that both groups use" because they consume and, therefore, pay for less power, the article said. Solar energy advocates accuse these utility companies of trying to undermine the rooftop solar energy systems market, pointing to the utilities' open acknowledgement that "distributed solar is a mortal threat to their business," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Jun 02, 2013

Solar panels took the Toledo Museum of Art off the grid last week
 

Twenty years after the Toledo Museum of Art initiated a program to make its main building more energy efficient, the museum's solar panels last week produced more energy than was needed, thereby completely removing the facility from the energy grid, Toledo News Now reports. The museum's first solar panels were installed in 2008 and now total 4,000 across almost every square foot of the roof and also in the parking lot. Since the program's inception, the museum "has lowered its energy costs by 80 percent" – the savings from which it is using to put toward more community programs, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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May 10, 2013

New solar array is now connected to Cedarville University's power grid
 

Cedarville University's new 2,154 kilowatt solar array, which supplies, on average, 10 percent of the school's demand, is now hooked into its power grid, according to The Hannah Report. Cincinnati-based Melink Corporation, which constructed the array, said that it is "the largest solar system directly connected to a university in Ohio," the article said. For more, read this Cedarville University press release announcing the array.


 
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Apr 23, 2013

Map provides comprehensive solar energy industry employment data for all 50 states
 

The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit organization that uses research and education to demonstrate the global benefits of solar energy, offers a map of detailed solar energy industry employment data for all 50 states. According to the foundation, the State Solar Jobs Map uses numbers that are "believed to be the most credible and up-to-date state-level jobs numbers in existence," and is the first resource to aggregate this information for all 50 states. Figures provided for each state include the total number of solar energy industry jobs and companies, as well as calculations determining each state's rank in the nation for its maximum solar resource, its number of homes powered by solar energy and its electricity price. For more, explore the State Solar Jobs Map.


 
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Apr 22, 2013

IRS defines terms in the production tax credit extension
 

Ever since President Obama signed off on the extension of the production tax credit as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 on the first of this year, alternative energy developers have been waiting for the IRS to define the new qualification standard for PTCs (See our Jan 02, 2013, blog, "Congress passes a one-year extension of the production tax credit"). The new law replaces the requirement that the project be producing energy in order to qualify for the credit and instead requires that construction of the project begin by Dec. 31. The IRS released rules last week that define "the beginning of construction as 'starting physical work of a significant nature,' including road construction, pouring of concrete or off-site assembly of turbines," Bloomberg reports. Conducting environmental studies, securing financing and getting permits are preliminary development activities that do not qualify as construction; however, developers "can also qualify if they incur 5 percent of the total cost of the project and make continuous progress toward completion," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Apr 17, 2013

Kent State University to host second annual Symposium on Advances in Organic Photovoltaics this month
 

Kent State University will host its second annual Symposium on Advances in Organic Photovoltaics (OPV) on April 17, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 6:15 p.m. in the Moulton Hall Ballroom on the Kent Campus, a press release from the university announced. The symposium, which is free and open to the public, will feature academic speakers who will discuss recent progress made with regard to OPV, which are "specialized carbon-based materials used in solar cells" that can potentially be "produced at much lower costs than conventional solar cells using processes such as jet printing, spray painting and roll-to-roll manufacturing processes," the release said. For more, read the full press release.


 
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Apr 11, 2013

New solar array will provide up to eight percent of Celina's total energy demand
 

Today, the New Energy Capital Cleantech Infrastructure Fund announced the final commissioning and term financing for a completed, 5-megawatt solar array that is connected to Celina's municipal grid and capable of providing up to eight percent of the city's total energy demand, Columbus Business First reports. The $18 million project, developed by Westerville-based SolarVision LLC and co-owned with New Energy Capital, "was financed with New Market Tax Credits, in partnership with the Finance Fund and JPMorgan Chase," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Apr 01, 2013

Legislation would help finance solar energy projects in Cincinnati
 

The City of Cincinnati, which last April put into place an electric supply contract requiring all of the city's power supply to be backed by Renewable Energy Credits, is now working to "establish new financing mechanisms for expanding the city's solar energy capabilities," Business Courier reports. Following a town hall meeting on the topic of solar energy, Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls called on the mayor's administration to "work with local organizations like Green Umbrella, Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority and the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (GCEA) to develop Property Assisted Clean Energy (PACE) financing," which would use "third-party financing tools to overcome existing financial barriers" for solar energy projects, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Mar 25, 2013

Ohio ranks 14th in the nation for amount of installed solar power
 

A new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association found that Ohio moved from 18th in the United States in 2011 to 14th in 2012 for the amount of installed solar power, Dayton Daily News reports. Major installations highlighted include: two wind turbines that will be active at the Honda Transmission Mfg. of America, Inc. plant in Russells Point by year's end; IKEA's installation of 4,186 solar panels in West Chester; Wal-Mart's installation of solar arrays atop a dozen Ohio stores; and the Assurant Group's installation of 6,200 solar panels in Springfield, the article said. For more, read the full Dayton Daily News story and access the purchase page of the full report.


 
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Mar 20, 2013

Testimonies from the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee hearing on energy portfolio rules are now available
 

Because a "vast majority of interested parties" inquired about obtaining electronic transcripts of testimonies from yesterday's Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee hearing on the state's energy portfolio rules, a copy of all transcripts complete with any included attachments is now available.  Testimonies are from: Andrew Ott of PJM Interconnection; Samuel C. Randazzo of Industrial Energy Users-Ohio; James Taylor of The Heartland Institute; Eric Thumma of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Coalition; Daniel R. Simmons of the Institute for Energy Research; John C. Crespo of American Electric Power; and Colin Murchie of SolarCity Corporation on behalf of the Solar Energy Industries Association. For more, read the full document.


 
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Mar 05, 2013

Wal-Mart Stores is Ohio's largest solar power user
 

With solar power systems installed on 12 Walmart and Sam's Clubs stores throughout Ohio, Wal-Mart Stores is now the state's largest solar power user, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Located at stores in Austintown, Cincinnati, Franklin, Greenville, Loveland, Mason, Middletown, Milford, Toledo, Youngstown and Xenia, these systems generate approximately 6,000,000 kWh of energy, which are expected to supply "between 5 percent and 20 percent of each store's overall electricity use," the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Mar 01, 2013

First Solar Inc. constructs record-setting solar cell in its Perrysburg Township factory
 

This week, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) confirmed tests that show a solar cell constructed by Arizona-based First Solar Inc. at its Perrysburg Township factory “set a world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PC) solar cell conversion efficiency, achieving 18.8 percent cell efficiency,” The Toledo Blade reports. For more, read the full story.


 
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Feb 26, 2013

U.S. EPA releases best practices for siting solar photovoltaics on municipal solid waste landfills
 

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in conjunction with its RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory,  released the document, “Best Practices for Siting Solar Photovoltaics on Municipal Solid Waste Landfills.” The EPA is encouraging renewable energy development “on potentially contaminated land and landfills when it is aligned with the community’s vision for the site,” and this new document provides, in addition to examples of solar photovolatics projects on landfills, best practices for addressing “various technical considerations when determining the feasibility of a solar PV project on a landfill.” For more, read the full press release and document.


 
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Feb 08, 2013

With AEP out, Turning Point Solar project developers are working with the PUCO staff to keep the project afloat
 

Although the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) voted last month to deny American Electric Power’s plan to subject its customers to new charges in order to pay for the Turning Point Solar project, the project’s developers say their plan to build the “largest photovoltaic array east of the Rockies” will come to fruition, albeit by different means, The Columbus Dispatch reports (See the Jan 11, 2013, blog – “PUCO votes to remove the Turning Point Solar plan from AEP’s projected power needs report”). They have developed a backup plan with the assistance of the PUCO staff that involves “commitments from utilities, universities, in Ohio and elsewhere, to buy electricity from Turning Point,” which will be a 49.9-megawatt plant on a site near Zanesville, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Feb 04, 2013

Toledo Blade op-ed supports a national energy standard, Ohio’s energy efficiency requirement, and an expansion of the production tax credit
 

A recent op-ed featured on the Toledo Blade website insists that the federal government must develop a national standard for renewable energy so as to level the playing field among states – preventing those that already have energy standards from engaging in “a tug of war” for investors, and also creating market certainty for these investors. The editorial opines that the United States must invest more in clean energy resources so that it doesn’t fall behind China and parts of Europe; the production tax credits should be expanded; Ohio’s renewable energy laws should be maintained; and Congress should make a “great commitment” to researching and developing clean energy technologies through the nation’s universities. For more, read the full op-ed.


 
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Jan 11, 2013

PUCO votes to remove the Turning Point Solar plan from AEP’s projected power needs report
 

After determining that American Electric Power did not prove that the Turning Point Solar project is needed and therefore does not qualify to be a project paid for by new charges in customers’ utility bills, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) voted 3-1 to strip the plan from a report on AEP’s projected power needs, The Columbus Dispatch reports. The panel said that it is up to the utility to provide further justification for the project. For more, read the full story and PUCO’s decision.


 
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Dec 20, 2012

Solar Energy Industries Association names Napoleon, Ohio, “America’s Number One Solar Small Town”
 

This week, the Washington, D.C.-based Solar Energy Industries Association declared Napoleon, Ohio, “America’s Number One Solar Small Town,” The Toledo Blade reports. Napoleon’s Henry County is home to not only Isofoton North America’s $30 million plant, which employs 30 workers, but also AP Alternatives LLC, which “makes and installs racks to hold solar panels,” the article said. In addition, the town has two significant solar projects: a 4.2-megawatt solar array that supplies electricity to Napoleon’s power system and a 9.8-megawatt solar array erected by Campbell Soup Co. – the town’s largest employer, the article said. For more, read the full story and this SEIA press release.


 
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Dec 14, 2012

American Wind Energy Association asks Congress for a six-year phaseout of the production tax credit
 

The American Wind Energy Association submitted a proposal to U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, that would extend a tax break on the industry for six years, Bloomberg reports. The group insists the time frame is “long enough to cut costs and short enough to ease fears the credit will become a permanent part of the tax code,” the article said. The proposed plan would keep “100 percent of the current 2.2 cents a kilowatt-hour for projects started in 2013,” falling to 90 percent for projects completed in 2014, 80 percent in 2015, 70 percent in 2016 and 60 percent in 2017 and 2018, which would be the credit’s final year, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 26, 2012

New database lists nearly 300 solar companies across the state
 

Ohio University and the Ohio Development Service Agency recently developed a database that lists and maps nearly 300 solar companies across the state of Ohio, the Columbus Dispatch reports. The database, which can be accessed at www.ohiosolarenergy.org, is being touted as a way to “help companies in the solar industry work together and attract customers,” the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 20, 2012

Solar energy helps power ongoing Hurricane Sandy relief efforts
 

With many customers still without power in the coastal regions of Long Island and the Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy, residents are finding ways to use their solar energy that ordinarily depends on the electrical grid, the New York Times reports. It is a common belief that homes powered by solar energy are not affected by power outages, but these systems run by “sending excess power to the utility grid during the day and pulling electricity back to run the house at night,” the article said. When the grid goes down, it is still possible to “tap solar energy” by adding batteries to a home system or using independent solar generators. Despite these challenges, solar energy is providing relief for those who have been without power since the storm as “a multipanel, battery-tied system is helping fuel a relief center’s operations,” the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Nov 16, 2012

New supply chain database promotes Ohio solar energy companies
 

The Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs and the Ohio Development Service Agency’s Office of Energy recently announced the development of a new solar energy supply chain database, The Business Journal reports. The database, which was developed to “promote Ohio companies within the solar industry” and connect those companies with potential partners, suppliers and the public, allows users to access a geocoded, interactive online map that provides a comprehensive view of the solar energy industry in Ohio, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 29, 2012

Toledo Blade editorial: Green energy is a good thing, but it must be pursued cautiously
 

An editorial published on the Toledo Blade website Saturday took the position that green energy has many advantages, but is not right for every environment or every community. On the federal level, the editorial argues that the wind-energy industry deserves an extension of the production tax credit since “almost every energy industry – green or otherwise – has relied on subsidies.” On the state level, it maintains that the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority must exercise greater diligence when evaluating the proposals of clean-energy companies since four of the ten projects that received taxpayer-funded loans have “failed to repay the state, or failed to fulfill agreements such as reporting deadlines.” For more, read the full editorial.


 
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Oct 25, 2012

Liberty Township Walmart installs more than 2,000 solar panels
 

The Walmart in Liberty Township is joining the more than 150 of the company’s 4,522 stores across the country that are powered to some extent by solar energy, The Business Journal reports.  More than 2,000 panels installed across the Liberty Township store’s 100,000-square-foot roof will be able to produce 450,000 watts of power, which will cover approximately 60% of the store’s energy needs, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 23, 2012

Ohio-based Winelco Inc. receives $103,629 grant to install solar panels
 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency recently awarded a $103,629 Rural Energy for American Program grant to West Chester Twp.-based Winelco Inc. to install “a 90-kilowatt photovoltaic solar power system that will generate 97,570 kilowatt hours annually,” Hamilton Journal News reports. The company, which “designs, builds and operates water and waste water systems for residential, commercial and municipal waste water/water treatment industry sectors,” expects that the new energy system will provide 100 percent of its electric needs at its Centre Park Drive facility, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 18, 2012

Solyndra files $1.5 billion lawsuit against three Chinese solar companies
 

California-based solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, which gained worldwide attention when it filed for bankruptcy in 2011 after the federal government loaned it $535 million, is suing three Chinese solar companies – Suntech, Trina Solar Ltd and Yingli Green Energy Holding Co. – claiming that these companies used “predatory pricing and price fixing to drive out the competition in the U.S.,” OilPrice.com reports (See the Oct 11, 2012, blog – “Commerce Department finalizes tariff rates for Chinese solar panel manufacturers”). Solyndra says these illegal strategies are responsible for the company’s inability to “meet the contracts that it had announced in 2008” and is asking for a sum of $1.5 billion in compensation, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 12, 2012

Engineer works to increase solar-cell efficiency at OSU lab
 

Using a $50,000 grant from the nonprofit business incubator, TechColumbus, Waseem Roshen – owner and sole employee of SS Power Technology – has invented a circuit board that reduces the amount of power that is “lost in transit between the surface of the solar cell and the battery” and has used it in the lab to increase a cell’s efficiency by more than 50 percent, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Currently working out of the basement of an Ohio State University lab, Roshen is seeking at least $300,000 for another year’s worth of work, which will be spent developing a “durable and inexpensive application for the technology,” the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 11, 2012

Commerce Department finalizes tariff rates for Chinese solar panel manufacturers
 

Yesterday, the U.S. Commerce Department assigned Chinese solar panel firms with countervailing tariffs ranging from 14.78 percent to 15.97 percent and anti-dumping tariffs ranging from 18.32 to 250 percent, a press release from the International Trade Administration announced. The U.S. International Trade Commission will decide by November 23, 2012, if “solar cells from China materially injure, or threaten material injury to, the domestic industry,” which will determine whether the tariffs will take effect. For more, including the tariff rates for specific companies and the products that fall under the tariffs, read the full press release.


 
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Oct 05, 2012

Overcapacity is hurting China’s renewable energy industry
 

Even with demand for wind turbines and solar panels growing rapidly over the last five years, China’s manufacturing capacity for these products has grown even faster, creating “a looming financial disaster” due to oversupply and a price war, The New York Times reports. Chinese solar panel manufacturers are cutting back production and the Chinese government is pushing for the country’s more than 20 wind turbine manufacturers to consolidate into five or six companies, but foreign industry rivals insist that China must “subsidize the purchase of more solar panels at home” – instead of relying so heavily on exports – if it wants to help its overcapacity problem, the article said. For more, read the full story.


 
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Oct 02, 2012

Case Western University awarded $3.8 million to develop solar panels and wind turbines from biomaterials
 

The National Science Foundation awarded Case Western University a $3.8 million federal grant to help support a five-year effort to replace “gradually unsustainable components” of wind turbine blades and solar panels with biomaterials such as bacteria and fungi, Crain’s Cleveland Business reports. As a recipient, Case Western will work with eight other institutions from around the world to develop “lighter, stronger and more durable biomaterials” for energy applications, according to a press release from Case Western University’s Case School of Engineering. For more, read the story and the press release.


 
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Sep 28, 2012

FirstEnergy Corp. seeks solar and renewable energy credits for 2012
 

In order to comply with Ohio’s energy law, FirstEnergy Corp. announced yesterday that a request for proposal will be issued to purchase renewable energy credits from renewable generating facilities that are certified, or in the process of being certified, in the state of Ohio, a press release from the company said (See the Aug 17, 2012, blog – “Audit finds FirstEnergy Corp. overpaid by millions for renewable energy credits (RECS)”). The company seeks solar renewable energy credits (SRECS) and renewable energy credits (RECS) produced between January 1, 2010, and December 31, 2012. According the release, the amounts and locations sought by the company are as follows: 7,500 SRECS generated in Ohio or states contiguous to Ohio; 140,000 RECS generated in Ohio; and 175,000 RECS generated in Ohio or states contiguous to Ohio. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Sep 27, 2012

A combined 8,300 solar panels are being installed in Springfield and Urbana
 

Athens-based Third Sun Solar has been tapped to install more than 6,200 solar panels atop the Assurant Specialty Property buildings in Springfield as part of the company’s effort to save money and as part of its “launch of a bundled insurance program for commercial-scale solar installations,” Dayton Daily News reports. The $7 million, 1.76-megawatt project is expected to generate 1.9 million kilowatt hours of solar power annually, which is about a third of Assurant’s energy use, the article said. In addition, solar panels being installed near Urbana University’s football field will provide “a fifth of the university’s energy needs.” Cincinnati-based Melink Corp. is installing the 500-kilowatt solar array, which is expected to save “about $2 million over the 30-year lifespan of the project,” the article said. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Sep 25, 2012

OhioEnergyPathways.org launched to help Ohioans prepare and apply for energy jobs
 

The Ohio Board of Regents announced today that it has launched a website to help connect “Ohioans seeking education and jobs in the energy industry” with education and training resources, as well as employment opportunities, that are tailored to their needs and interests, according to a press release from the board. Keeping with Governor Kasich’s vision that higher education institutions better equip students with the skills and knowledge needed by Ohio’s businesses and employers, the website – OhioEnergyPathways.org – features information about the advanced energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and oil and gas sectors. For more, read the full press release here.


 
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Sep 25, 2012

10th annual Green Energy Ohio Tour schedule now available
 

Nonprofit renewable energy advocate Green Energy Ohio has scheduled 170 open houses in more than 100 communities in 49 counties across Ohio to showcase renewable energy and green design, a press release from the organization said. Tours, which run from Monday, October 1 through Sunday, October 7, are free and open to the public during designated times and include photovoltaics, energy efficiency features, LEED buildings, Energy Star, electric vehicles charged by renewable energy, passive solar, solar thermal, wind, geothermal and biomass. To view the schedule, pick a tour or design a personalized, self-guided tour, visit the GEO website here.


 
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Sep 14, 2012

ODOD extends deadline for Willard & Kelsey Solar Group to repay loan
 

In an effort to allow the Toledo-area solar firm to pursue a plan that’s “aimed at raising additional funding,” the Ohio Department of Development decided today to change the repayment date for Willard & Kelsey Solar Group’s state loan from September 5, 2012, to October 26, 2012, The Columbus Dispatch reports  (See the Aug 10, 2012, blog – “Ohio Department of Development demands Perrysburg-based solar energy company repay $5 million loan”). While the financial plan that the firm submitted to ODOD is not public record, Daryl Hennessy, assistant chief of the business services division at the department, said the company was able to “convert some of [its] debt into equity” and “secure some outside investment” that put it in “a better financial position,” the article said. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Sep 13, 2012

Second Ohio solar firm defaults on state loan
 

The Ohio Air Quality Development Authority determined that Buckeye Silicon, a solar firm in the Toledo area, “violated several terms of its $1.4 million loan” with missed loan payments, making partial payments and other compliance failures, leading the air authority’s board to rule that the company has defaulted on its state loan, The Toledo Blade reports. With Perrysburg’s Willard & Kelsey Solar Group having defaulted on its $5 million state loan on August 23, 2012, this latest development “marks the second time in less than a month that the air authority has demanded repayment of a loan from a Toledo-area solar company” (See the Aug 10, 2012, blog – "Ohio Department of Development demands Perrysburg-based solar energy company repay $5 million loan”). For more, read the full story here.


 
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Sep 04, 2012

Northern States Metals to buy OPEL’s Solar Tracker business
 

In an effort to “continually lower the balance of system costs for large solar projects,” Northern States Metals – developer and manufacturer of the patented Solar FlexRack photovoltaic mounting system – intends to purchase OPEL Technologies Inc.’s Solar Tracker assets, The Business Journal reports. OPEL’s Solar Tracker technology “is designed to increase the yield of a photovoltaic system by up to 30%” and “eliminates inter-row shadowing, allowing for larger systems to be installed in a smaller area,” the article said. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Aug 30, 2012

German solar panel manufacturer to add 140 jobs west of Cincinnati
 

Solarzentrum North America, a German manufacturer of solar panels, is investing $7 million to "expand its PV-Therm Module production facility" in Osgood, Indiana, approximately 50 miles west of Cincinnati, Business Courier reports. The company said that an increase in demand for its PV-Therm product, which “uses sunlight to heat water and generate electricity with the same unit” was responsible for the facility’s expansion and that 140 new jobs will be added by 2016 as a result, the article said. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Aug 16, 2012

Michigan Department of Transportation installs Youngstown-based Solar FlexRack’s carport system
 

The Michigan Department of Transportation chose the Youngstown-based Solar FlexRack system for installation as two solar carports at a carpool parking lot by the State Route 44 interchange of Interstate 96 in Grand Rapids, a press release from the company said. One array is 77 x 39 feet and will accommodate 154 Solar World 250-watt modules, while the other is 114 by 39 feet and will accommodate 231 modules. The two arrays will generate 38.5 kw and 57.75 kw of electricity respectively, the release said. For more, read the full press release here.


 
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Aug 15, 2012

Expo returns to highlight business-to-business opportunities in Ohio’s advanced energy industry
 

The Advanced Energy Business-to-Business Conference & Expo has grown out of its northeast Ohio roots and will cover the entire state during its annual event, which takes place this year at the Greater Columbus Convention Center from October 30-31, 2012, a press release from NorTech said. NorTech produced the event and Advanced Energy Economy Ohio is presenting the agenda, which includes sessions with industry experts on key advanced energy sectors like waste and biomass to energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, fuel cells, smart grid, shale gas and solar, as well as a technology showcase featuring “entrepreneurs, companies, and researchers seeking collaborators, partners and funding,” the release said. More than 700 industry professionals are expected to attend and more than 120 companies and organizations are expected to exhibit, the press release said.


 
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Aug 10, 2012

Ohio Department of Development demands Perrysburg-based solar energy company repay $5 million loan
 

Since the Ohio Department of Development and the Willard & Kelsey Solar Group failed to reach a solution for the company defaulting on a state loan, ODOD has made a formal demand that the $4,135,855.12 owed to the state be repaid by September 5, The Toledo Blade reports (See the May 15, 2012 blog – “State hires accounting firm to assess Perrysburg solar firm’s finances”). If Willard & Kelsey does not respond to ODOD’s demand, then the matter will be turned over to the state attorney general’s office for collections, the article said. For more, read the full story here.

 
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Aug 09, 2012

Lockheed Martin wins contract with Marines to install solar panels on Cleveland-developed fuel cells
 

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin has won a $3 million contract from the U.S. Marines to “integrate solar panels” into fuel cells developed by Cleveland-based Technology Management Inc., The Plain Dealer reports.  While Lockheed Martin and TMI have been collaborating on fuel  cells for the military for more than two years, this new solar panel element is being added so as to reduce the need for noisy diesel generators in war zones as well as to cut the amount of fuel used by the generators – which is difficult to haul – in half, the article said. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Jul 31, 2012

Exceptionally sunny weather helps the Wyandot Solar Farm exceed energy output projections
 

The abundance of sunshine this summer may prove detrimental to crops, but it’s helped Public Service Enterprise Group’s Wyandot Solar Farm near Upper Sandusky in Wyandot County produce “more energy than expected this summer,” The Blade reports. The 12-megawatt facility, which cost $44 million and covers 84 acres, does not release specific output figures, but did say that the facility is “over the plan for this year” and is selling the extra energy to American Electric Power Co., the article said.


 
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Jul 16, 2012

Owner of Charley’s Grilled Subs starts solar energy company
 

Charley Shin, who started the Charley’s Grilled Subs chain in Columbus in 1986, started another company there two years ago – Solar Planet, a company that finances and installs solar energy systems for organizations facing tight budget constraints like schools, municipalities, universities and nonprofit organizations, The Columbus Dispatch reports. One of Solar Planet’s first projects was a $6.5 million solar-panel installation for Centerburg Local Schools launched a few months ago that “promises to replace as much as 80 percent of the power that the schools currently buy from AEP,” the article said. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Jul 05, 2012

Ohio School Facilities Commission proposes rule for "solar ready" schools
 

The Ohio School Facilities Commission ("OSFC") has released a proposed rule regarding the adoption of standards for "solar ready" school roofs. The proposed rule, available here, leaves most of the work for OSFC Staff, who will craft the standards and include them in the 2011 Ohio School Design Manual. The rule is being proposed pursuant to the authority of Revised Code 3318.112, a statute enacted as part of SB 221 requiring OSFC to adopt "solar ready" requirements and guidelines for schools under its jurisdiction. The standards will apply to all projects funded by OSFC and will address, among other things, roof space limitations, shading and obstruction, building orientation, roof loading capacity and electric systems. The rule allows school districts to seek a waiver of the standards if they show good cause.


 
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Jul 02, 2012

Kent State to install largest solar array of any public university in Ohio
 

Third Sun, a solar developer out of Athens,  financed the installation of 1,716 solar panels atop Kent State University’s field house that will generate enough electricity annually for 50 homes or “a third of the power consumed in the field house and nearby Dix Stadium,” The Plain Dealer reports. Third Sun will own the $1.5-million solar array for seven years, after which the university has the option to buy or change its power-purchasing contract, the article said. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Jun 12, 2012

Xunlight Corp. introduces portable solar panels
 

As part of its shift of focus from research to sales, Xunlight Corp. introduced a portable charging kit that can provide energy "for military personnel in remote locations who need power," The Toledo Blade reports. The company's flexible solar panels, which perform at about 15 megawatt efficiency and weigh significantly less than traditional glass panels, are being marketed to "campers, boaters, the military, and developing nations," the article said. For more, read the full story here.
 
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May 29, 2012

U.S. Department of Energy recognizes DuPont's Circleville expansion
 

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recognized the grand opening of DuPont's expanded solar photovoltaic manufacturing plant in Circleville last week and "called on Congress to extend the expiring clean energy tax credits that made this investment possible," a press release from the U.S. Department of Energy said. The Circleville plant received $50 million in federal clean energy tax credits to expand its production of a thin film material that strengthens the performance and durability of solar modules, which created 70 permanent operational jobs, the release said. For more, read the full press release here.


 
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May 18, 2012

U.S. imposes more than 31 percent tariff on Chinese solar panels
 

In an effort to curb dumping, the U.S. Commerce Department announced yesterday that tariffs of more than 31 percent will be imposed on Chinese solar panels, The New York Times reports. While solar panel manufacturers in the United States argue that the move was necessary to prevent China from intentionally overwhelming the industry, solar panel installation companies say the new tariffs will hurt their companies by driving up the price of solar panels, the article said (See the May 15, 2012, blog – "Tariffs on Chinese solar cells could cost the U.S. jobs"). For more, read the full story here.
 
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May 15, 2012

Tariffs on Chinese solar cells could cost the U.S. jobs
 

With the U.S. Commerce Department set to announce on Thursday whether Chinese-made silicon-based photovoltaic cells will be subject to a second round of tariffs amid allegations of dumping, some analysts warn that such tariffs could cost jobs in the U.S. solar installation market, The Los Angeles Times reports. More than 70 percent of jobs in the U.S. solar industry are in installation, sales and distribution, and could suffer significant losses if the cost of solar power does not drop to remain competitive with other energy sources, the article said (See the May 10, 2012, blog – "In the U.S., solar installation companies thrive while manufacturers struggle"). For more, read the full story here.
 
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May 15, 2012

State hires accounting firm to assess Perrysburg solar firm's finances
 

Because the Perrysburg solar firm Willard & Kelsey Solar Group has repeatedly missed and made incomplete payments on a $5 million loan from the Ohio Air Quality Development Authority, the authority now plans to hire GBQ Partners LLC to examine the firm's finances, The Toledo Blade reports. The firm, which received $10.5 million in Ohio taxpayer dollars in exchange for the creation of 400 jobs that have yet to materialize, is being accused of misusing the loan money (See the May 01, 2012, blog – "Perrysburg solar firm accused of misusing state funds"). For more, read the full story here.
 
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May 15, 2012

Solar-power cell component revitalizes lagging DuPont facility
 

With a drop in demand for Mylar in the 1980s and an ill-timed entry into film production for videotapes and audiotapes in the mid-1990s, the DuPont facility in Circleville had been shrinking considerably in recent years, The Columbus Dispatch reports. State and federal tax incentives helped DuPont to pick the Circleville site to begin producing Tedlar – a film that "lines the backs of solar-power cells" –  this year with a $175 million investment in the facility and the hiring of about 70 additional workers, the article said. For more, read the full story here.
 
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May 10, 2012

In the U.S., solar installation companies thrive while manufacturers struggle
 

In the United States, solar installation companies are taking off with advantages like tax breaks, creative financing techniques and cheap, Chinese-made solar panels while solar manufacturers continue to lose footing against Chinese solar panel manufactures, whom they accuse of selling panels below fair value, The New York Times reports. Although the Commerce Department will announce on May 17th whether these Chinese companies did sell products below fair value and should be penalized with steeper duties, installation companies are at odds with solar manufacturers because they say the cheap panels enable them to drop prices, which is good for business, the article said. For more, read the full story here.
 
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May 08, 2012

Lakewood schools to use solar energy to pay for structural upgrades
 

The Lakewood School Board approved a plan recently that will use money saved from the installation of a solar photovoltaic project to pay for new windows at one of the schools in the district, The Buckeye Lake Beacon reports. The solar project, directed by Tipping Point Energy, Inc., is projected to save the district $680,513 over the 20-year contract, the article said. For more, read the full story here.
 
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May 08, 2012

Report: Solar power will rebound dramatically
 

Global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Inc. released a report declaring that it is not death throes that the solar-power industry is experiencing, but natural growing pains. The report, "Solar power: Darkest before dawn," finds that although government subsidies that are set to expire created new producers who oversupplied the market, the industry will stabilize as underlying solar-photovoltaic costs drop and solar power stand-alone economics become competitive in five customer segments. For more, read the full report here.


 
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Apr 30, 2012

FirstEnergy's Ohio utilities meet in-state solar renewable energy benchmarks for 2012
 

Last Thursday, FirstEnergy Corp. announced that its Ohio utilities – Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, Toledo Edison and Ohio Edison – met the 2012 in-state solar renewable energy benchmarks through "a successful Request for Proposal (RFP) to secure 10-year Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs)," according to a press release from the company. For more, read the full press release here.
 
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Apr 30, 2012

Oberlin College to house largest campus-based solar array in Ohio
 

Aspen-based Spear Point Energy is developing a 2.27-megawatt ground-mounted solar array project to be built on Oberlin College property this summer and expected to be generating power by September, The Morning Journal reports. The college and possibly the city will purchase energy from the panels, which at a production rate of three million kilowatt hours annually will be the "largest solar array on any college or university campus in Ohio," the article said. For more, read the full story here.
 
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Apr 20, 2012

Harrison-area company's solar panels are ahead in energy output
 

Favorable weather conditions have resulted in the 120,000-square-foot solar installation at Hubert Co., a Harrison-based food merchandising supplier, to produce at a pace that is ahead of its expected annual output, Cincinnati Business Courier reports. The $3-million installation, which should produce approximately 27 percent of the facility's yearly needs, will also save the company from having to purchase electricity from an outside supplier during hot, sunny days when the cost of power is at its peak, the article said. For more, read the full story here.
 
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Apr 18, 2012

First Solar Inc. to be removed from the Nasdaq 100 list
 

Nasdaq announced on Friday that First Solar Inc., which is based in Tempe, Arizona, and has its only U.S. plant in Perrysburg Township, will be replaced by Texas Instruments Inc. on the Nasdaq 100, The Toledo Blade reports. Having been on the index of 100 of the largest nonfinancial companies listed on the stock exchange since December 2008, the solar firm was removed for being unable to "have an adjusted market capitalization, or value, equal to or greater than 0.1 percent of the aggregate adjusted market capitalization of the entire index at the end of the month" for two consecutive months, the article said. For more, read the full story here.
 
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Apr 16, 2012

8,000-panel solar farm planned for Findlay
 

By the fall, Seattle-based OneEnergy Renewables will have an 8,000-panel solar farm constructed at the corner of Broad and Bigelow avenues in Findlay, The Courier reports. Energy from the farm, which will be sold to an American Electric Power substation nearby, will be enough to power 200 houses, the article said. For more, read the full story here.
 
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Apr 16, 2012

Ohio officials are unsure if solar companies can repay loans
 

Although Ohio officials are eager to appear friendly to businesses, concerns are beginning to arise regarding whether several solar companies will be able to make scheduled payments on loans that were funded by taxpayer dollars and whether these companies will be able to meet hiring requirements that were outlined in the loan agreements, The Columbus Dispatch reports. For more, read the full story here.
 
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Apr 16, 2012

Report will determine if the Willard & Kelsey Solar Group failed to meet the terms of a loan agreement
 

An Ohio Department of Development report set to be released on May 2, 2012, will determine whether the solar-panel company Willard & Kelsey Solar Group met the terms of taxpayer-funded loan agreements, including repayment and job creation, The Toledo Blade reports. For more, read the full story here.

 
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Apr 10, 2012

Toledo GM plant to partially run on solar energy
 

The General Motors Toledo Transmission Plant will soon purchase electricity produced from the 80,000 square feet of solar panels housed on the roof of its own facility, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Solscient, a company based at the University of Toledo's Clean and Alternative Energy Incubator, installed and will maintain the infrastructure, which is projected to produce 1.8-megawatts upon completion, at no cost to GM, the article said. For more, read the full story here.

 
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Apr 02, 2012

Toledo-based solar panel company develops business plan for commercial launch following layoffs
 

Xunlight Corp., a Toledo-based, private solar panel company with branches in China, is working to overcome the last several months of layoffs, resignations and a halt to paying its top executives' salaries to emerge with a profitable business plan, The Toledo Blade reports. Xunlight, which has received a job creation tax credit and several grants from the state, blamed payment issues with an Italian company for forcing it to lay off 30 employees at its Toledo facility last May, the article said. For more, read the full story here.
 
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Mar 26, 2012

President Obama touts "all-of-the-above" energy policy during Ohio visit
 

During a visit to Columbus last week, President Obama reiterated his position that "the United States can't drill its way to lower gas prices," evidenced by the fact that "America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years" as prices continue to rise, The Columbus Dispatch reports. The president said that while he does support drilling, it will take fuel efficiency programs, as well as solar, wind and other advanced technologies, to reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, The Plain Dealer reports. For more, read The Columbus Dispatch story here and The Plain Dealer story here.
 
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Mar 21, 2012

New details emerge about Ohio solar company's troubles
 

The (Toledo) Blade reports that the State of Ohio lent millions of dollars to a Perrysburg solar-panel manufacturer despite knowing about budding financial problems at the company. And even when it had a better account of Willard & Kelsey Solar Group's money troubles, the article continues, the state approved requests to defer loan payments, extend financial report deadlines, enter into a new state loan agreement, and modify the terms of a private loan. The full article is available here.


 
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Mar 15, 2012

Despite setbacks, U.S. wind and solar energy industries are expected to thrive
 

Although the current low price of natural gas threatens the economic rationale for renewable energy, a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research says that the price of solar panels plummeted by more than 50% in 2010, and estimates that solar power will account for 10% of U.S. electricity by 2020, up from 1% currently. Meanwhile, American Wind Energy Association announced that wind power increased 31% last year, USA Today reports. As government subsidy programs for renewable energy expire, both the wind and solar industries will face "considerable consolidation," the article said. For more, read the USA Today article here or view the SEIA's "U.S. Solar Market Insight Report Year-in-Review 2011 Summary" here.


 
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Mar 11, 2012

Xunlight CEO resigns
 

Xunming Deng has resigned as Xunlight Corp.'s president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board, according to an article in The (Toledo) Blade. The Toledo-based solar panel manufacturer was started in 2006 by Deng and his wife, Liwei Xu. The article notes that Deng will continue as an adviser to Xunlight Corp., as chairman and CEO of Xunlight 26 Solar, a Xunlight subsidiary with offices in Toledo, and chairman and legal representative of Xunlight Kunshan. Xunlight has a plant in Kunshan, China.


 
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Mar 07, 2012

Licking County schools consider solar energy
 

Officials from several school districts in Licking County are working to determine if powering some of the schools with solar energy would save money on electricity, the Newark Advocate reports. Savings are estimated at anywhere from $300,000 to $1 million in a 20-year period for the school districts, which would lock in a rate for power purchased from the owner of the solar system for a set period of time, the article said.
 
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Feb 29, 2012

California companies look to revitalize Ohio communities with solar power
 

Locally Grown Power and IdealPV, two California-based companies, are partnering with Mansfield, Ohio's North End Community Improvement Collaborative (NECIC) to test an idea that uses low-cost solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to revitalize ailing communities, CleanTechnica.com reports. The proposed public-private partnership would establish a solar PV assembly plant and installation program and would install solar PV for any willing local residents and businesses, the article said. In addition to energy savings, the project would create approximately 440 jobs. If successful, the project could be replicated across the country. For more, read the full story here.


 
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Feb 24, 2012

Solar panel plant in Napoleon, Ohio, expected to be operational by October
 

Representatives from Spanish solar panel manufacturer Isofoton expect the company's $31 million solar panel plant to bring 330 jobs to Napoleon, Ohio, once it becomes operational this October, the Toledo Blade reports. Nearby University of Toledo will work with the company to "increase the productivity" of the solar panels manufactured at the plant, which received $15 million in financing through state loans and $4 million from private funding, the article said. For more read the full story here.

 
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Feb 23, 2012

Ohio attorney general approves green energy fund ballot initiative
 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine approved a ballot initiative submitted by the group Yes for Ohio's Energy that would "instruct the state to take on $13 billion in debt over 10 years to pay for green energy improvements and support research in the field," Columbus Business First reports. If the initiative makes it onto the ballot and is passed, then the state would issue "$1.3 billion in bonds each year from 2013 to 2023 to pay for energy infrastructure improvements and research and development of green technology, such as solar, wind and geothermal energy," the article said. For more read the full story here.

 
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Feb 21, 2012

Midwestern poll finds that voters support renewable energy
 

A bipartisan survey given to 1,600 voters across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio last month found that 51 percent of those surveyed would pay up to $6 more and 37 percent would pay $2 to $4 more on electric bills to "help promote clean energy and energy efficiency," according to a press release from the nonprofit coalition that sponsored the poll – the Minnesota Environmental Partnership. Voters surveyed also expressed a "strong preference for wind and solar power over natural gas, coal and nuclear power for future energy use," the release said.
 
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Feb 10, 2012

Proposed solar field in London, Ohio, requires a change to the zoning code
 

The Staples store is preparing to lease eight acres of land next to its warehouse in London, Ohio, to the solar energy company SunEdison in a 20-year power purchase agreement deal that will provide the warehouse with a low-cost energy supply, the Columbus Messenger reports. SunEdison will own the solar array for 20 years before Staples can purchase it, so the London City Council must amend its zoning code to allow for this utilities-based arrangement before the project can proceed, according to an article in The Madison Press.
 
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Feb 06, 2012

City of Cincinnati signs solar energy deal
 

Miamisburg-based Solar Power & Light – in partnership with Athens-based Dovetail Solar and Wind and the Beachwood-based Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance – won a 20-year contract with the City of Cincinnati to "install and operate solar equipment on land owned or controlled by the city," according to an article in the Dayton Business Journal. The city will only have to pay for the electricity generated, the article said. For more read the full story here.


 
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Feb 05, 2012

Arizona project pairs solar with fossil fuels
 

As reported by Forbes.com, Tucson Electric Power said that it plans to add solar power to a coal- and natural-gas-fired plant in Tucson, Ariz. The Sundt Solar Boost Project, slated to begin operating early next year, will use solar steam generators to produce as much as 5 megawatts of power during times of peak demand. The project is the latest of several to combine solar power with fossil fuels in an attempt to increase generating efficiency, according to the article.


 
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Feb 05, 2012

FirstEnergy sets webinar for solar RFP
 

FirstEnergy Corp. will host a webinar on Thursday, February 9, at 11 a.m. (ET) to discuss its recently released request for proposals to secure 10-year contracts for solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) for its Ohio utilities. The RFP seeks delivery of 1,000 SRECs produced by qualified generating facilities in Ohio for each calendar year beginning in 2012 and continuing through 2021. No energy or capacity will be purchased under the RFP. Webinar instructions are available here (pdf). More information on the RFP is available here.


 
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Feb 03, 2012

Group wants locally grown power in Richland County
 

The North End Community Improvement Collaborative presented to Richland County commissioners Tuesday their plan to start a company that will "assemble solar panels from mostly locally produced components," according to an article in the Mansfield News Journal. A 30,000-square-foot building and $6.2 million in startup costs would provide the town with 440 living-wage jobs and the ability for homes and government facilities to receive solar panels at little or no cost, the article said.


 
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Jan 30, 2012

Green energy executives say the industry is promising for Ohio
 

A group of green energy executives spoke of the positive impact that the renewable energy industry can have on Northwest Ohio's economy during a presentation at the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce annual meeting last week, ToledoBlade.com reports. The executives noted that Ohio's strong manufacturing base make it an attractive location for developing and producing solar technologies, the article said. For more read the full story here.


 
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Jan 30, 2012

FirstEnergy announces long-term RFP for solar renewable energy credits
 

FirstEnergy Corp. announced that it will conduct a Request for Proposal to secure 10-year contracts to provide solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) for customers of its Ohio utilities--Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating and Toledo Edison--to help meet the renewable energy benchmarks established under Ohio’s renewable portfolio standard. The RFP seeks delivery of 1,000 SRECs produced by qualified generating facilities in Ohio for each calendar year beginning in 2012 and continuing through 2021. No energy or capacity will be purchased under the RFP.

On February 9, FirstEnergy will conduct a webinar to outline the RFP process and the terms of the agreement. To participate in the RFP, bidders are encouraged to submit credit information by February 27, with full proposal information due on March 6. For more information, visit the web site FirstEnergy set up for the RFP.


 
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Jan 30, 2012

City council in Ohio establishes rules for renewable energy projects
 

The Avon Lake City Council approved legislation last week that regulates the "construction, modification and operation of renewable energy sources," according to an article on Cleveland.com. The legislation, which establishes jurisdiction as well as noise and location restrictions for wind turbines and solar panels, allows all pre-existing systems to be grandfathered in, the article said. For more read the full story here.


 
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Jan 25, 2012

Ohio IKEA store converts to solar energy
 

An IKEA in West Chester Township is the 14th IKEA store in the U.S. to install a solar energy system, according to an article in the Middletown Journal. Rec Solar designed and installed the 1.3 megawatt system from September to December 2011. The 128,000-square-foot photovoltaic system consists of 4,186 panels and will reduce approximately 1,014 tons of carbon dioxide each year, the article said. For more read the full story here.


 
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Jan 24, 2012

Cleveland State to install solar panels
 

Athens-based Dovetail Solar and Wind will use "energy tax credits, accelerated depreciation and the sale of solar renewable energy credits" to finance the roof restoration of Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center – an arena and conference center – as well as the installation of 2,470 solar panels that will provide about 15 percent of the power used at the facility, according to an article in The Plain Dealer. For more, including information on other Ohio colleges and universities converting to solar power, read the full story here.


 
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Jan 23, 2012

Marietta schools nix solar power plan for now
 

After showing initial interest in a solar energy plan developed by the Shaker Heights-based firm Carbon Vision, the Marietta City School District is no longer pursuing the project because the initially projected energy savings of $20,000 for the first year did not take into account the $60,000- to $80,0000-worth of savings that the district would experience each year over the next two years as part of an electric aggregation contract, an article in The Marietta Times reports. For more read the full story here.


 
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Jan 19, 2012

Natural gas can make wind and solar energy cleaner
 

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that highly efficient gas turbines should be integrated into wind farms and giant solar arrays so that electric utilities can shut down the coal-fired power plants that serve as the "spinning reserve" for generating power when the wind stops or clouds obscure the sun, an article in The Plain Dealer reports. Read the full story here.


 
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Jan 19, 2012

Ohio energy summit videos available online
 

The Battelle Memorial Institute, a Columbus-based nonprofit research institution, has made available streaming video from The Ohio Governor's 21st Century Energy & Economy Summit, which took place from September 21-22, 2011, at The Ohio State University. Topics included coal; wind, solar and efficiency; environment, technology and community impacts; alternative transportation fuels; etc. Speakers included Gov. John Kasich, energy industry executives and energy policy specialists.


 
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Jan 19, 2012

Perrysburg solar energy company struggles to repay loans
 

Perrysburg-based Willard & Kelsey Solar Group has reduced payments on two state loans and laid off 40 employees this month, the latter of which renders the company ineligible for $3 million in state tax breaks for which it was conditionally approved, the Toledo Blade reports. The company, which is "partially funded by millions of dollars in state loans and grants," will be inspected by the state Office of Air Quality Development Authority in February to ensure that a $5 million loan intended for an assembly line was well spent, the article said.  


 
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Jan 16, 2012

Marathon Petroleum to develop Findlay solar project
 

The (Findlay) Courier reports that Marathon Petroleum Corp. plans to develop a $4 million solar project that will help power the City of Findlay's sewage treatment plant. The project will aid the company's emerging energy technology research, which also focuses on wind and biofuels, according to the article. The project is expected to generate about 1 megawatt of electricity per year, which will be donated to the city. 


 
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Jan 09, 2012

Advances in storage technology provide new life to solar energy
 

A recent article in The New York Times spotlights two California companies that are planning to build solar storehouses that use solar thermal technology to provide electricity while the sun is down, thereby solving one of solar energy's main problems – the need for expensive gas-fired generators to operate as backup capacity. For more read the full story here.


 
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Jan 07, 2012

Developer moves forward with Yellow Springs solar project
 

The Yellow Springs News reports that SolarVision is moving ahead with plans to develop a 2.5 megawatt solar project in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Last May, Yellow Springs finalized a contract with SolarVision in which the Westerville, Ohio-based company would finance, construct, own and maintain solar facilities on the village-owned Glass Farm land for 20 years, according to the article. Putting together financing for the project has taken SolarVision longer than expected, the article notes, but construction is now expected to start in six months.


 
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Jan 07, 2012

Natural gas prices present challenge to solar energy market
 

National Public Radio's Morning Edition program ran a story this week examining how relatively low natural gas prices in the United States are impacting the solar energy market. With increased production due to the kind of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling now occurring in Southeast Ohio holding the line on the cost of electricity produced by natural gas, payback periods for some solar projects are on the rise, according to the story.


 
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Dec 08, 2011

Capped landfills to be repurposed for use as solar energy fields
 

The (Toledo) Blade reports that two international energy companies intend to install a large solar energy field on former landfill sites in northern Toledo. OCI Solar Power and CME Energy plan to invest nearly $20 million on the project. According to Toledo Mayor Mike Bell, "It's a very positive use of the land and from the standpoint of renewable energy and creating great green initiatives." The solar field is projected to be finished by 2013 and is expected to generate enough electricity to power 7,000 homes.  


 
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Dec 06, 2011

Toledo solar firms confident amid industry uncertainty
 

Toledo solar firms First Solar Inc., Xunlight Corp., and Willard & Kelsey LLC are still confident their operations will survive despite predictions from the chief executive of China’s Trina Solar Ltd. that two-thirds of solar-related companies will face mergers, acquisitions or bankruptcy by 2015, according to an article in The (Toledo) Blade.  The article highlights First Solar Inc., Xunlight Corp., Willard & Kelsey Group LLC and Isofoton North America, which is planning to open a solar plan in Napoleon next year.  According to the article, each of the companies "contends it makes a particular type of panel that is in demand and is competitively priced, so it will survive any industry consolidation."


 


 
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Dec 05, 2011

Amendment to federal defense bill aims to level the solar energy playing field
 

A press release on U.S. Senator Tom Udall’s (D-N.M.) website indicates that a recent amendment to the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act closes loopholes that gave foreign solar manufacturers at an advantage over American companies. Now, in addition to being required to buy American-made goods, the Department of Defense will have to purchase power from companies that use American compliant panels. According to the Senator’s site, “The Buy American Solar Amendment will close this loophole and create a level playing field for U.S. solar manufacturers.” The amendment was co-sponsored by Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).


 
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Dec 05, 2011

Solar power opportunity presented to Marietta City School Board
 

At a recent Marietta City School Board Meeting, members heard a presentation from Carbon Vision, a renewable energy analysis and project development firm, regarding a proposal to build a solar power system for the district. According to The Marietta Times, the company “would install solar arrays at schools at no cost to the district, in an arrangement that could save the district an estimated $20,000 savings in the first year.” In return, the company is asking the Board for a quick decision in order to take advantage of tax incentives. Read the full article here.

 


 
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Dec 04, 2011

FirstEnergy Solutions signs 20-year deal with Maryland solar farm
 

Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. announced that its FirstEnergy Solutions subsidiary signed a long-term agreement to purchase the output from a 20-megawatt solar farm planned for Hagerstown, Md. When the Maryland Solar Farm is completed, the project will be the largest solar facility in Maryland and among the largest on the East Coast. Under the terms of the agreement, FirstEnergy Solutions will purchase the facility's output for 20 years.


 
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Nov 28, 2011

Solar CEO: industry bucks national trends, deserves continued support
 

Michelle Greenfield, chief executive officer of Athens, Ohio-based Third Sun Solar, wrote an opinion column for the Akron Beacon Journal chronicling the industry's explosive growth and urging continued support by the federal government. Greenfiled writes:

More than 5,000 companies are in the U.S. solar energy value chain. The vast majority of these companies are small businesses, the engine of growth slowed by the economic downturn. My firm, Third Sun Solar, began as a mom-and-pop solar installation company in 2000, completing mostly small residential installations.

Third Sun Solar now has grown to 28 employees designing and installing megawatt-scale solar arrays for such clients as the Cincinnati Parks Department, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, and the Akron Metro Regional Transit Authority. That’s the kind of growth this country needs.

And, defying the story line that America doesn’t make or export anything anymore, the American solar manufacturing sector is now a net exporter of solar materials and equipment on the order of $2 billion. We’re even a net exporter to China.

The solar industry is diversifying the nation’s energy portfolio. Growth in the industry has resulted in a total solar electric capacity of more than 3,100 megawatts (MW) — the energy it takes to power 630,000 homes, just 10,000 shy of the number of households in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus combined.

And as more solar energy has been produced, prices for consumers have come down dramatically. In less than two years, the price of solar panels alone has dropped 30 percent making solar an increasingly cost-effective option for American families and businesses.

The full column is available here.


 
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Nov 28, 2011

Ohio company featured for veterans employment program
 

The Associated Press (via The Columbus Dispatch) featured Dublin, Ohio-based Tipping Point Renewable Energy in an article about employment prospects for military veterans in the green energy field. Through its Solar By Soldiers program, Tipping Point is hiring veterans for its solar installation crews.


 
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Nov 13, 2011

State representative pens letter in support of solar energy
 

State Representative Peter Beck (R-Mason) wrote a letter to The Columbus Dispatch in support of solar energy, arguing that government should encourage continued investment in the industry. Beck wrote:

A bright spot in Ohio’s economy is the return we get from solar energy. More than 90 companies are manufacturing, installing and distributing solar-energy products in our state, creating 1,000 jobs and helping families regain economic stability and helping Ohio claim its share of this vibrant market.

With the U.S. projected to become the world’s largest solar market in just three years, the solar industry will add tens of thousands of jobs over the coming years, many of them right here in Ohio.

Beck concludes by writing that "[j]ust as it has supported the production of oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy, Congress needs to affirm a commitment to solar, giving our country and our economy the energy and jobs it needs." The full letter is available here.


 
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Nov 08, 2011

FirstEnergy claims full compliance with Ohio renewable energy requirements for 2011
 

Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. said a successful long-term request for proposal for renewable energy credits ("RECs") and solar renewable energy credits ("SRECs") has brought its Ohio utilities -- Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison -- into full compliance with the state's renewable portfolio standard ("RPS") for 2011. The RFP sought and procured the delivery of 5,000 SRECs and 20,000 RECs produced by generating facilities throughout Ohio for each calendar year beginning in 2011 and continuing through 2020.

"The robust participation in this RFP is evidence of a maturing renewable energy credit market throughout Ohio," said Dennis Chack, President of Ohio operations for FirstEnergy, in a news release. "There were 28 qualified bids received, offering more than two times the required number of SRECs and over four times the required number of RECs, and many of the credits are originating in Toledo, Cleveland and other cities in our service area."

FirstEnergy sought and received a waiver from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio of its in-state solar requirement under Ohio's RPS earlier this year after arguing that Ohio's solar market was still too underdeveloped to meet the law's requirements. With the apparent success of this RFP, FirstEnergy has canceled plans for a second 10-year RFP for SRECs. Its filing with the PUCO canceling the second RFP is available here.


 
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Nov 01, 2011

Report: solar industry jobs grow by nearly 7 percent
 

The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit solar education and research organization, has released its second annual review of the solar workforce in the United States. The National Solar Jobs Census 2011 found that job growth in the industry in the past year was almost 7 percent. More than 100,000 Americans are now employed in the solar industry. A fact sheet on the report is available here (pdf). The full report is available here (pdf).


 
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Oct 26, 2011

Euclid to save 10 to 15 percent on utilities after solar panel installation
 

According to a Cleveland’s NewsChannel 5 report, the installation of 338 solar panels on the roofs of Euclid’s city hall and library will save the city 10 to 15 percent on utilities. This effort is the result of a partnership with Cleveland-based Ohio Cooperative Solar. In the agreement, Euclid will purchase the electricity generated from their panels at a discounted rate through a power-purchase agreement, but they will not pay for the installation of the solar panels. 


 
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Oct 21, 2011

Eaton Corp. wins contract for Arizona solar power plant
 

Crain’s Cleveland Business reports that Ohio-based Eaton Corp. will receive $8.1 million to provide the electrical power distribution system for Abengoa Solar's solar power plant in Arizona. While other solar power plants use sunlight to generate energy, Eaton Corp’s system uses mirrors to follow the sun and concentrate its energy, which is then used to heat fluids that are used to turn steam turbines.


 
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Oct 20, 2011

U.S. solar firms file trade case against Chinese solar industry
 

The New York Times reports that seven U.S. solar panel manufacturers have filed a broad trade case at the Commerce Department in Washington against the Chinese solar industry, accusing it of using billions of dollars in government subsidies to help gain sales in the American market. The companies also accused China of dumping solar panels in the United States for less than it costs to manufacture and ship them, according to the report.

The U.S. companies seek tariffs of more than 100 percent of the wholesale price of solar panels from China. The case is being led by Oregon-based panel maker SolarWorld Industries America. The six other companies that joined the case chose to remain anonymous under Commerce Department rules, fearing reprisals from the Chinese government.


 
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Oct 12, 2011

Newark to transform contaminated site into solar energy field
 

The Newark Advocate reports that a $2 million Clean Ohio Revitalization grant will fund the transformation of a contaminated Newark site into the home of 6,000 solar panels. SolarVision LLC of Westerville will manage the project and Dovetail Solar and Wind of Athens will build the energy field. The 24 acres of panels will generate up to 1.5 megawatts of electricity to help power the city's wastewater plant.


 
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Oct 10, 2011

Columbus Zoo planning new solar energy system in 2012
 

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium has selected Third Sun Solar of Athens, Ohio to design and install a solar energy system to help the Zoo meet its future energy needs, according to an article on WSYX Channel 6’s website.  Construction on the project will begin in 2012, and will entail installing thousands of solar panels at various locations throughout the Zoo. Besides being a significant milestone in the Zoo’s commitment to renewable energy, the solar energy system will also be utilized in the Zoo’s educational program.


 
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Oct 01, 2011

Congratulations to SoCore Energy and Walgreens
 

The entire Bricker & Eckler Green Strategies team sends congratulations to our client SoCore Energy LLC and its customer Walgreens on a successful Ohio solar roll-out. With the deployment of solar on 52 Ohio stores in 20 counties, this brings to 100 the number of stores nationwide Walgreens has converted to solar energy. Visit here for a short video on this exciting project and here for the Walgreens announcement.


 
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Sep 29, 2011

Toledo-area solar firms build on success despite missteps elsewhere
 

Although the high-profile bankruptcy of California-based solar panel manufacturer Solyndra LLC is grabbing headlines, Toledo's solar industry is continuing to grow, according to an article in The (Toledo) Blade. Bricker & Eckler also recently published an overview of the Ohio solar market, available here.


 
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Sep 26, 2011

OSU team competes in national sustainable housing competition
 

A team from Ohio State University is among twenty from around the world participating in the U.S. Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratories' Solar Decathlon in Washington D.C. The teams have developed energy-efficient housing prototypes that are being judged for design, performance, market viability and other factors. The OSU team page is available here.


 
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Sep 20, 2011

FirstEnergy to host webinar for 10-year REC and SREC RFP
 

FirstEnergy Corp. will hold a webinar on Fri., Sept. 23 at 11 a.m. ET for parties interested in the company's recently announced request for proposal ("RFP") to secure 10-year contracts for renewable energy credits ("RECs") and solar renewable energy credits ("SRECs") to help meet its state renewable energy requirements.

The registration page for the webinar is available here. The RFP website is available here. The RFP seeks delivery of 5,000 SRECs and 20,000 RECs produced by generating facilities in Ohio for each calendar year beginning in 2011 and continuing through 2020. No energy or capacity will be purchased under the RFP. To participate in the RFP, bidders are encouraged to submit credit information by October 11, 2011, with full proposal information due by 3 p.m. on October 18, 2011.


 
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Sep 20, 2011

First Solar announces record efficiency for thin-film solar cells
 

Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar Inc., which operates a solar manufacturing facility in Perrysburg, Ohio, announced it has achieved record efficiency for a thin-film solar cell that will help it outpace cost reductions by Chinese rivals and compete against fossil fuels without government aid, according to an article published by Bloomberg.


 
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Sep 18, 2011

OAQDA approves financing for Henry County solar plant, Licking County building upgrades
 

The Ohio Air Quality Development Authority ("OAQDA") approved a $5 million loan (pdf required) to Isofoton North America, Inc. to build an 86,000-square-foot solar manufacturing facility in Napoleon, Ohio. Isofoton's first customer, and the driving force behind its decision to locate a plant in Ohio, is the proposed 50-megawatt Turning Point solar project in Southeast Ohio.

OAQDA also authorized $4.7 million in financing (pdf required) for Licking County to retrofit twelve county government buildings with various energy efficiency and conservation systems, including lighting retrofits, building envelope and insulation improvements, and roof and window replacements.


 
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Sep 13, 2011

Constellation Energy launches residential solar leasing program in Ohio
 

Constellation Energy has launched a new program that allows its residential customers in Ohio to lease solar panels installed on their homes, eliminating the need for a large, up-front payment for such systems. Constellation is also operating the program in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. News of the program is available here, here and here.


 
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Sep 08, 2011

Melink Corp. to host open house celebrating "net-zero energy" achievement
 

The Melink Corporation is holding an open house on Wednesday, September 28 to celebrate achieving "net-zero energy" for the company's corporate campus in Milford, Ohio. The company achieved zero energy consumption for the year through conservation and efficiency efforts as well as the addition of on-site, renewable energy generation. Attendees are invited to tour the building to see how Melink both saves energy and creates it. Click here for registration and travel information.


 
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Sep 07, 2011

$456 million in U.S. financing will support Ohio-based First Solar production
 

The Export-Import Bank of the United States has agreed to provide $456 million in financing to First Solar, Inc. customer NextEra Enery Resources for two solar projects in Ontario, Canada, that will support production at First Solar's Perrysburg Township, Ohio, manufacturing facility, as reported in The (Toledo) Blade. As part of the deal, First Solar plans to produce 90 megawatts' worth of solar panels.


 
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Sep 02, 2011

Report: China benefits from struggles of U.S. solar industry
 

In the wake of the bankruptcies of three U.S. solar companies in the past month, a report in The New York Times examines the increasing dominance of China's solar industry. According to the article:

Some American, Japanese and European solar companies still have a technological edge over Chinese rivals, but seldom a cost advantage, according to industry analysts.

Loans at very low rates from state-owned banks in Beijing, cheap or free land from local and provincial governments across China, huge economies of scale and other cost advantages have transformed China from a minor player in the solar power industry just a few years ago into the main producer of an increasingly competitive source of electricity.

The full article is available here.


 
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Sep 01, 2011

U.S.-backed solar company ceases operations
 

As reported in multiple news outlets, California-based Solyndra LLC, the recipient of more than $500 million in federal loans, announced that it is closing its doors and filing for bankruptcy. The move leaves 1,100 employees out of work and is likely to lead to additional scrutiny of the federal government's support of clean energy. Reports of Solyndra's closure are available here, here and here


 
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Aug 26, 2011

Ohio career center adds renewable energy program
 

According to the Springfield News-Sun, Ohio’s Hi-Point Career Center is training students for manufacturing jobs in the renewable energy arena. The program’s initial focus will center on solar power. Read the full article here.


 
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Aug 15, 2011

New solar array in Toledo will help supply energy to water treatment plant
 

A new solar array in Toledo will help supply energy to water treatment plant The City of Toledo is using the power of the sun to lower energy costs needed to run its water treatment plant. According to a recent article in The Toledo Blade, a joint venture between the city, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and IPS Energy Ventures helped to get the $5.2 million project off the ground. The solar array is expected to save the city one cent per kilowatt hour and provide approximately one-quarter of the plant’s annual energy needs.


 
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Aug 11, 2011

Recent PUCO ruling allows FirstEnergy to miss solar requirement for second year
 

The (Toledo) Blade ran a brief article detailing the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s decision to grant FirstEnergy Corp.’s application for a waiver from its 2010 in-state solar requirement under Ohio’s renewable portfolio standard. More information on the PUCO’s ruling is available on the Bricker & Eckler website. As detailed in the Bricker & Eckler overview of the decision, the PUCO rejected the arguments of its staff, the solar industry, and several other intervening parties regarding FirstEnergy’s efforts to procure the required solar renewable energy credits (SRECs). Those parties had argued that FirstEnergy did not exhibit a good-faith attempt to procure in-state SRECs because it did not enter long-term contracts with SREC suppliers or construct its own solar-generation facilities. As noted in a previous post, however, the PUCO did not grant FirstEnergy a complete waiver from the solar requirement, opting instead to follow precedent and increase the company’s 2011 requirement by its 2010 shortfall.


 
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Aug 09, 2011

Sen. Brown launches Solar by Soldiers program to train veterans in clean-energy installation
 

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) recently helped launch the Solar by Soldiers program, designed to train and employ veterans in clean-energy installation. Brown also marked the completion of the first solar array built by the Solar for Soldiers program at Flannigam's, a restaurant in Dublin, Ohio, which could save more than $230,000 in utility costs over the next 25 years. "Solar for Soldiers partners two of our state's important assets: dedicated veterans and clean energy manufacturers," Brown said. "Ohio can lead the nation in clean-energy manufacturing and utilization, but this will require that our state's skilled workers have the training and resources needed for 21st century jobs." More information on the program is available here


 
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Aug 08, 2011

More than $1.1 million approved for advanced-energy jobs training in Ohio
 

The Ohio Department of Development has approved more than $1.1 million in Energizing Careers Program grants for ten Ohio companies to assist in training workers in advanced energy technologies, including wind, solar and biomass. "The future of our economy is advanced energy manufacturing and our workforce must keep up with the demands of the marketplace," said Christiane Schmenk, Director of the Ohio Department of Development. "These training dollars will benefit incumbent workers, as well as allow new employees to be hired." The program is made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act State Energy Sector Partnership Training program, funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

 


 
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Aug 04, 2011

PUCO grants FirstEnergy's 2010 solar waiver request, increases 2011 solar requirement
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio this week granted FirstEnergy's force majeure application to reduce its 2010 in-state solar requirement under Ohio's renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The Commission reduced FirstEnergy's solar requirement from the 3,206 solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) that the company was supposed to procure under the RPS to the 1,629 in-state SRECS that it actually acquired. At the same time, however, the Commission followed its own precedent in previous force majeure cases and increased FirstEnergy's 2011 solar requirement by the amount of its 2010 shortfall. The full order is available here.


 
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Aug 03, 2011

FirstEnergy announces RFP for solar renewable energy credits
 

FirstEnergy Corp. announced that it is a conducting a request for proposal (RFP) to purchase solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) for its Ohio utilities, Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co. and Toledo Edison. FirstEnergy is seeking SRECs to help it meet its 2011 solar energy requirements under Ohio's renewable portfolio standard.

The SRECs being solicited include solar from Ohio-certified generation facilities and solar from certified SREC generation facilities in states contiguous to Ohio. Interested bidders can visit FirstEnergy's RFP website. To participate in the RFP, bidders must submit credit information by Aug. 19, 2011, with proposals due by Aug. 29, 2011. 


 
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Aug 02, 2011

More money for U.S. SunShot Initiative
 

The U.S. Department of Energy announced an additional $50 million for expansion of the solar industry in America. The goal of the SunShot initiative is to return the U.S. to worldwide dominance in solar manufacturing. The money announced today is intended to increase manufacturing through investments that create, "sustainable, competitive cost and performance advantages."


 
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Jul 19, 2011

Ohio ranks second in nation in solar manufacturing
 

According to a news report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Ohio's solar panel manufacturing base rose by 50 percent during the first three months of 2011, topping big solar-producing states like California and New Jersey. Oregon is currently ranked number one. Also, the Toledo Blade reports that three solar panel makers in northwest Ohio are expecting to start or increase production over the next year. The SEIA also reports that solar panel production nationwide was up 31 percent in the first quarter of 2011 compared with a year ago.

 
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Jul 18, 2011

Report: loss of state grant threatens Ohio's solar industry
 

Ohio's small but quickly growing solar industry is facing a slowdown because of the loss of grant money available through the Ohio Department of Development's Advanced Energy Fund, according to an article in the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. As the article details, the revenue source for the fund, a 9-cent-a-month charge for the customers of the state's four investor-owned utilities, was not renewed by the General Assembly at the end of 2010. Without the state grant, solar projects are generally too expensive for residential customers, although commercial customers are still able to fund projects through a combination of federal incentives and the sale of solar renewable energy credits, or SRECs, according to the article.


 
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Jul 15, 2011

Federal agency holds public meeting about 50 MW Turning Point solar project
 

The Rural Utilities Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, hosted a public meeting in Caldwell, in Southeast Ohio, to present information about the 50-megawatt Turning Point solar project planned for the area, according to the Zanesville Times Recorder. The RUS is preparing an environmental assessment to look at the potential impacts of the project, slated for a 771-acre tract of reclaimed strip mine owned by American Electric Power near the Noble-Muskingum County line. The project's developers are seeking a loan from the agency, which could go through in 2012 if the assessment process goes smoothly, according to the article.


 
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Jul 08, 2011

Solar-products manufacturer Calisolar withdraws PUCO filing
 

An application for discounted power rates by Sunnyvale, Calif., solar-products manufacturer Calisolar has been formally withdrawn by the company, said a spokesman for the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. According to an article in the Manfield News Journal, Calisolar company president Sandra Beach Lin said the company could not meet the September construction deadline to qualify for a federal loan if it came to Ohio. The project would have created almost 1,100 permanent jobs and up to 1,000 construction jobs.
 
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Jul 06, 2011

Solar-technology manufacturer to get $15.8 million in incentives from ODD
 

The Ohio Department of Development (ODD) says that it will offer $15.8 million in incentives to Isofoton, a European manufacturer of solar-energy technology that plans to open a manufacturing facility in Napoleon, Ohio. The amount will leverage Isofoton’s pledged $16.4 million investment in Ohio.

According to an article in the Toledo Blade, Isofoton—with headquarters in Madrid and Malaga, Spain—said its Napoleon plant will include a 50 MW crystalline silicon solar module assembly line, and the company plans to ramp up to a 100-megawatt assembly line. Initially it will start with 121 jobs and expand to 330 within three years.


 
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Jul 06, 2011

Turning Point Solar project in Noble County, Ohio, is a go
 

"The largest solar-power project in the Midwest will be built in a rural area of eastern Ohio, reported the Columbus Dispatch in a July 6, 2011 article.  The project, a 49.9 MW solar array that will include approximately 250,000 solar panels, is being developed by Turning Point Solar LLC on 750 acres of reclaimed coal land owned by American Electric Power (AEP) in Noble County, Ohio.  In addition to investing $20 million in the Turning Point Solar project, AEP recently entered into a power purchase agreement under which AEP will buy the electricity from the project.  Construction on the project is expected to being in 2012.
 
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Jun 25, 2011

Newark approves 1.5-MW solar project
 

City officials in Newark, Ohio, have decided to move forward with a 1.5-megawatt solar field on the city's east side that will provide enough electricity to power the city's wastewater-treatment plant, according to an article in The Columbus Dispatch. The city selected Westerville-based SolarVision LLC to develop the project. Construction will be handled by Athens-based Dovetail Solar and Wind. 


 
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Jun 25, 2011

Magazine examines Central Ohio's advanced energy marketplace
 

Columbus C.E.O. magazine is featuring an article examining the state of the advanced energy marketplace in Central Ohio. It provides a decent snapshot of major projects and the state and federal policies supporting them.


 
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Jun 25, 2011

Ohio Department of Development releases solar and wind energy supply chain videos
 

The Ohio Department of Development has released videos promoting Ohio as a destination for manufacturers that produce solar and wind energy components. The solar video is available here. The wind video is available here.


 
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Jun 17, 2011

Dept. of Energy offers $275 million loan guarantee to Mansfield-area solar plant
 

The U.S. Department of Energy announced that it is offering a $275 million loan guarantee to California-based alternative energy manufacturer Calisolar Inc. to build a plant in Ontario, Ohio, according to this article in The Columbus Dispatch. The Mansfield area could gain more than 1,000 permanent jobs as a result of the project, which will be located on the site of a former General Motors Corp. plant. The facility will manufacture solar silicon from lower-cost metallurgical grade material that Calisolar then upgrades. Its process is said to be less expensive and more energy-efficient than traditional processes, according to the article. Previous posts on the project are available here, here and here.


 
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Jun 15, 2011

College of Wooster claims largest solar-panel array at any U.S. college
 

A 20,000-square-foot solar-panel array, which the College of Wooster claims to be the largest on any college facility in the country, is being installed atop its new student recreation and athletic facility, according to this article in The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.

The solar array will generate 271,000 kW hours of electricity annually, enough to power a student residence hall. It is being installed by Carbon Vision LLC of Shaker Heights. The company will own the solar installation and lease it to the college, which will purchase all the power generated for 12-and-a-half years. At the end of that term, the college will receive title to the solar installation, which has a life of up to 40 years.


 
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Jun 15, 2011

PUCO, Ohio Edison inch closer to deal with Calisolar
 

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio   staff and officials from Ohio Edison and Calisolar signed off on a plan filed May 31 that would save the California-based solar products manufacturer more than $100 million over 10 years.  Calisolar is planning to invest $752 million to bring a manufacturing operation to a former General Motors Corp. site in Ontario, Ohio, that would employ as many as 1,100 people. 
 
According to an article in the Mansfield News Journal, a hearing before PUCO commissioners will take place in the next week or two. At that meeting, the five-member commission can accept, modify or deny the agreement.
 
 
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Jun 02, 2011

Calisolar incentive agreement awaits PUCO approval
 

Calisolar Inc. filed an agreement with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio this week that if approved could save the company more than $100 million in electricity costs at its proposed manufacturing facility in Ontario, Ohio, according to an article in the Mansfield News Journal. Calisolar, Ohio Edison Co. and PUCO staff have signed off on the incentive agreement and urged the five-member Commission to quickly approve it. Calisolar, a producer of low-cost silicon for solar cells, plans to take over a vacant General Motors plant.

The incentive agreement is contingent upon several things, including Calisolar hiring a certain number of employees. In exchange for locating in Ohio Edison's service area, the agreement states Calisolar will be eligible for up to $100 million in electric rate discounts if the facility's full-time employment is 1,100 or less, and up to $125 million in discounts if employment exceeds 1,100, according to the article.


 
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Jun 01, 2011

DOE announces $27 million to reduce costs of solar energy projects
 

As part of the Obama Administration's SunShot Initiative to make solar energy cost-competitive with fossil fuels within the decade, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the availability of more than $27 million in new funding that will reduce the non-hardware costs of solar energy projects, a critical element in bringing down the overall costs of installed solar energy systems.

The funding will support a $12.5 million challenge to encourage cities and counties to compete to streamline and digitize permitting processes, as well as $15 million that will be made available to advance innovations in information technology systems, local zoning, building codes and regulations, and more.

 


 
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May 31, 2011

Case Western teams with industry to improve durability of solar, energy efficiency technologies
 

Case Western Reserve University announced that it is teaming up with industry on research to dramatically improve the productive lifetime of solar energy technologies, energy-efficient lighting, roofing, building exteriors and more. The collaboration is receiving help from the Ohio Third Frontier Commission, which recommended a $2.9 million grant to help fund the Solar-Durability and Lifetime Extension Center at Case. Awarded under the Third Frontier Wright Projects Program, the S-DLE Center will include new labs and a sun farm on campus.


 
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May 26, 2011

Pilkington unveils solar array at its Northwood R&D center
 

Toledo-based Pilkington North America Inc. is taking the wraps off of a 250-kilowatt solar array at its Northwood, Ohio, research and development center. The array will supply roughly 12 percent of the facility's power. The $1.5 million project was developed in partnership with Dublin, Ohio-based engineering firm Hull & Associates.


 
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May 25, 2011

SolarVision plans 3 MW solar field in Celina
 

Solar energy developer SolarVision LLC is planning a 3 megawatt (MW) solar field in Celina, according to a company news release. The project will be located on a 20-acre tract in what will become the Celina Renewable Energy Center, which will include the solar field, a biogas plant, lake sediment ponds and manmade wetlands. SolarVision anticipates building an additional 2 MW of solar capacity as part of the plan's second phase. Groundbreaking for the project is set for June 23, 2011.

According to the news release, the City of Celina signed a power purchase agreement with SolarVision in December 2010 to purchase all of the solar plant’s electrical output. The system will be owned and operated by SolarVision. As a part of the transaction, SolarVision secured $17.7 million in new market tax credits and financing.


 
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May 25, 2011

IKEA to add solar panels to Ohio store
 

Swedish home furnishings retailer IKEA announced plans to install solar PV systems on six of its stores in the United States, including its store in West Chester, Ohio. Collectively, the solar arrays at the six stores will total 5.1 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity. The array at the West Chester store will include 4,452 solar panels with a generating capacity of roughly 1.3 MW. Pending governmental permits, installation can begin in late spring, with completion expected this fall, according to the company.


 
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May 17, 2011

South Euclid readies first energy district project
 

South Euclid is kicking off its involvement in the Northeast Ohio Advanced Energy District by investing in a solar-powered spotlight in front of its community center, according to this article in the Sun Messenger. South Euclid is one of fifteen communities, including Cleveland, that make up the energy district, which is affiliated with the First Suburbs Development Council.


 
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May 13, 2011

Senate Bill 221 is a success, should not be repealed, says columnist
 

Ohio's Advanced Energy Portfolio Standard, or Senate Bill 221, received such strong bipartisan support because it was a "forward thinking jobs bill that would help transform the state's economy,"  according to Larry Feist, Program Chair in Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology and Power Systems Engineering Technology at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, in a guest column he authored for The Cincinnati Enquirer. "We find it puzzling that anyone would want to repeal Ohio's energy law that passed in 2008 with complete bipartisan support."
 
Feist is responding to critics of SB 221 who are now attempting to amend the law. Feist goes on to state that although SB 221 was only enacted three years ago, it has proven to be a success. "In Southeast Ohio, the largest solar array east of the Rockies will be built. This project ... will produce enough power for 30,000 homes and will create 600 new jobs, including the attraction of two new solar manufacturers to Ohio. Also, in Northwest Ohio, construction has begun on the Blue Creek Wind Farm, which has created 300 jobs, involves 18 Ohio companies, and will build 152 wind turbines. This project was originally slated for Indiana, until Ohio's lawmakers passed our energy law," said Feist.
 

 
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May 04, 2011

Pataskala considers installing 1.3 MW solar project
 

The City of Pataskala is considering installing a 1.3 megawatt solar system to help offset some of its energy consumption, according to an article in The Newark Advocate. Tipping Point Renewable Energy, a company that is also working with Columbus, Upper Arlington and Dublin on solar projects, recently pitched the project to the Pataskala City Council's building and grounds committee. As currently proposed, the project would entail installing solar panels at the city's two water treatment plants and its wastewater treatment plant, according to the article. 


 
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Apr 25, 2011

New study finds that solar systems increase home values
 

Courtesy of The New York Times Green blog, a new study by three researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory concludes that homes with solar photovoltaic systems sell at a premium over comparable homes without PV systems. The researchers studied California home sales over an eight-and-a-half year period ending in mid-2009. According to the blog:

The premium ranged from $3.90 to $6.40 per watt of capacity, but tended most often to be about $5.50 per watt. This, the study said, “corresponds to a home sales price premium of approximately $17,000 for a relatively new 3,100-watt PV system (the average size of PV systems in the study).”


 
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Apr 19, 2011

OSU to compete in Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon
 

The Ohio State University’s Team enCore is getting ready to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Decathlon this fall. The team, which placed 10th in the 2009 Solar Decathlon, is planning to bring a “bigger, tougher and more efficient house” to this year’s event, according to a report in the DOE Energy Blog.

Team enCore’s two-bedroom, one-bath design places all the mechanical systems in the center of the home, and uses exterior components, such as walls, shades, windows and the roof, to control temperature and produce energy. The roof is also entirely covered in thin-film solar cells, a first for the competition.

The DOE Solar Decathlon challenges 20 collegiate teams to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost effective, energy efficient and attractive. As set forth by the DOE, the winner of the competition will be the team that “best blends affordability, consumer appeal and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.”

 


 
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Apr 18, 2011

FirstEnergy refiles application for 2010 solar waiver
 

As expected, FirstEnergy refiled its application to reduce its in-state solar requirement for 2010 (pdf required) under Ohio's renewable portfolio standard. FirstEnergy included its "force majeure" application in its annual status report of its overall RPS compliance. The company said that it satisfied the requirements for non-solar resources and solar resources procured from other states. However, FirstEnergy said that it was able to obtain just 1,629 of the required 3,206 in-state solar renewable energy credits ("SRECs") for 2010. The 51 percent compliance rate is a substantial increase over the 3 percent compliance rate for in-state SRECs in FirstEnergy's initial force majeure application, filed in late January. The company said it purchased the additional SRECs in 2009 for delivery this year--to meet its 2011 in-state solar requirements--but discovered that it could use the SRECs for its 2010 compliance efforts.

FirstEnergy withdrew its original force majeure application after PUCO staff filed comments concluding that FirstEnergy did not provide enough information to determine whether the utility fully explored all available options to meet the state's renewable requirements. The Commission has 90 days to determine whether to grant FirstEnergy's request.


 
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Apr 14, 2011

Report: 50 MW solar project in Southeast Ohio awaits PUCO approval
 

An article in The Marietta Times provides an update on the 50 MW Turning Point solar project in Southeast Ohio. The Noble County project is currently under consideration by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio as part of a rate case brought by AEP Ohio, which plans to purchase electricity from the facility once it is operational. An official with New Harvest Ventures, one of the entities collaborating on the project, said in the article that he expects a decision by the Commission sometime in September.


 
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Apr 12, 2011

FirstEnergy to amend, refile application for solar waiver
 

Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. has informed the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that it is withdrawing its application to reduce its in-state solar requirements for 2010 and will refile the application with amendments later this week. In its "force majeure" application filed in January, FirstEnergy said that it had procured only 112 of the 3,206 in-state solar renewable energy credits ("SRECs") that it needed to comply with the 2010 solar requirements under Ohio's renewable portfolio standard ("RPS"). In its withdrawal filing this week, FirstEnergy says that it has now procured a total of 1,752 in-state SRECs. The utility says it will refile its force majeure application to coincide with the status report it is required to file with the Commission on April 15, 2011, regarding its overall compliance with the state's RPS. The full filing is available here (pdf required).

FirstEnergy's withdrawal filing comes after PUCO staff filed comments last week concluding that FirstEnergy did not provide enough information in its force majeure application to determine whether the utility fully explored all available options to meet the state's renewable requirements. 


 
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Apr 11, 2011

German solar firm to bring North American headquarters, jobs to Toledo
 

TecnoSun Solar Systems AG, a German company that makes mounting systems for solar panels, plans to bring 20 to 40 jobs to Toledo in the next two years when it opens an office at the University of Toledo, according to this report in The (Toledo) Blade. Peter Fischer, TecnoSun Solar System's chief executive, recently signed a one-year lease to open a 1,390-square-foot office at UT's Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex. The facility will serve as the North American headquarters for TecnoSun, which plans to hire a CEO for the Toledo office within six weeks, according to the article.


 
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Apr 06, 2011

Plans move forward for solar factory near Mansfield
 

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Calisolar Inc. is in the final stages of negotiations with state and local officials to remake a former General Motors plant in Ontario, Ohio, near Mansfield, into a facility that produces silicon for use in solar cells, as reported in the Mansfield News Journal. The $750 million project is expected to create 831 full-time jobs. Government officials and job-training providers met this week to discuss developing a training program for the Calisolar facility, according to another News Journal article.


 
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Apr 05, 2011

PUCO Staff files comments in FirstEnergy solar compliance case
 

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Staff filed initial comments (pdf required) in the case in which FirstEnergy is seeking to lower its 2010 in-state solar requirement under the state's renewable portfolio standard. In its "force majeure" application filed in January, FirstEnergy argues that, despite its best efforts to comply, there were not enough in-state solar renewable energy credits ("SRECs") available for purchase. FirstEnergy is requesting that the Commission lower its 2010 in-state solar requirement to the 112 out of 3,206 required SRECs it was able to purchase.  

In its comments, PUCO Staff concludes that FirstEnergy did not provide enough information in its force majeure application to determine whether the utility fully explored all available options to meet the state's renewable requirements. Specifically, Staff notes that while FirstEnery discussed its efforts to comply through short-term REC purchases, it is not clear whether FirstEnergy "fully considered such options as (a) entering into long-term contracts for RECs and/or (b) constructing new in-state solar generating capacity." Staff wants more information on FirstEnergy's efforts, if any, in those areas. Staff would also like FirstEnergy to discuss how its 2010 solar shortfall could be incorporated into the REC RFPs that are the subject of the application currently pending before the Commission in Case No. 10-2891-EL-ACP.


 
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Apr 04, 2011

Former tire dump in Wyandot County could become home to new solar farm
 

A former tire dump in Wyandot County that was the site of a disastrous fire in 1999 could be redeveloped as a solar farm, as reported in The Columbus Dispatch. Under the terms of a proposed deal with Ohio EPA, the current owners would give up the 136-acre property in exchange for the agency dropping all but a fraction of the $65.4 million in unpaid environmental fines and cleanup costs at the site, according to the article.

The state has not revealed the identity of the solar developer interested in the site, but the article notes that it could be New Jersey-based utility Public Service Enterprise Group, which built an 80-acre solar farm near the Wyandot County Airport last year. The group is listed as a party to a Jan. 6 memorandum of understanding signed by Wyandot County and Ohio EPA officials, according to the article. 


 
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Mar 30, 2011

Cincinnati Zoo completes $11 million solar project
 

Work is now complete on the Cincinnati Zoo's $11 million solar "canopy" covering nearly four acres of the zoo's parking lot, according to an article in USA Today. The project is designed to produce 1.56 megawatts of electricity, about 20 percent of the zoo's annual need and enough to power 200 homes.


 
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Mar 24, 2011

SolarVision completes and pursues solar field installations in Ohio
 

Solar energy provider SolarVision, headquartered in Westerville, Ohio, has recently completed a 250 kW solar photovoltaic array for the city of Washington Court House, according to this article in Solar Industry magazine. The installation is expected to generate approximately 292,000 kW of energy per year, which will be purchased by the city at a discounted rate.

As recently reported in this article, SolarVision has also proposed to build a solar array that would generate 3 MW of power for the city of Clyde in Sandusky County. If the city decides to accept a power-purchase agreement before May 1, 2011, SolarVision will pay the city a $600,000 solar-licensing fee.


 
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Mar 23, 2011

Newark mayor proposes solar field for former factory site
 

The mayor of Newark, Ohio has unveiled plans to install a solar field at the site of a former manufacturing facility on the city's east side, according to an article in The Columbus Dispatch. The solar field is one component of a citywide initiative promoted by Mayor Bob Diebold to encourage "healthier lifestyles for Newark residents while also attracting businesses and promoting renewable energy." Milford, Ohio-based Melink Corp. is helping the city with its plans for the solar field. 


 
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Mar 16, 2011

Plug Smart and Constellation Energy receive Senate Bill 232 tax exemption for solar project
 

On March 9, 2011, the Ohio Department of Development awarded the first Ohio Qualified Energy Project Tax Exemption Certificate to the one megawatt solar project at the University of Toledo Scott Park campus developed by Bricker & Eckler client Plug Smart and Constellation Energy. The tax exemption stems from a provision in Senate Bill 232, which allowed qualifying energy projects to be exempted from paying Ohio's tangible personal property tax.  Congratulations to Plug Smart, Constellation and the University of Toledo for successfully navigating the tax-exemption process.  For more information on Senate Bill 232 or the tax-exemption process, please contact Terrence O’Donnell at 614.227.2345 or todonnell@bricker.com; or Mark Engel at 513.870.6565 or mengel@bricker.com.
 
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Mar 10, 2011

FirstEnergy seeking additional solar renewable energy credits for Ohio utilities
 

FirstEnergy Corp., Akron, Ohio, has announced that a fourth Request for Proposal (RFP) will be conducted to secure Ohio in-state solar renewable energy credits (Ohio SRECs) for customers of its Ohio utilities, which include Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison. The Ohio SRECs will be used to help meet the companies’ 2010 solar renewable energy requirements under Ohio law.

The RFP seeks to secure Ohio SRECs for compliance year 2010, which must have been generated from solar facilities in Ohio between July 31, 2008, and January 1, 2011. There is no limit to the number of bidders, but they must meet certain proposal qualifications as outlined in the RFP. Also, no energy or capacity will be purchased under this RFP. The due date for proposals is March 18, 2011. Navigant Consulting, a global consulting firm with experience in energy markets and procurement, will manage the RFP.

Bidding information for the RFP is available on FirstEnergy's Web site, and questions will be answered directly through the site. Interested parties may also contact Navigant at (516) 876-4036, or via e-mail at rfp@navigantconsulting.com.


 
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Mar 08, 2011

Trade group opposes FirstEnergy's application for waiver of in-state solar requirement
 

The Solar Alliance, an industry trade group, has filed comments opposing FirstEnergy Corp.'s force majeure application with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio seeking a waiver of the utility's in-state solar requirement for 2009 and 2010 under Ohio's renewable portfolio standard (RPS). The group is asking the Commission to order FirstEnergy to issue a long-term request for proposal for solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) to cover the shortfall. In the alternative, The Solar Alliance asks the Commission to require FirstEnergy to pay a RPS compliance penalty of $1.3 million. Additional background on FirstEnergy's force majeure application is available here and here


 
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Feb 28, 2011

PUCO defers FirstEnergy Solutions' 2009 solar requirement
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio recently issued an order deferring FirstEnergy Solutions' 2009 solar requirement under Ohio's renewable portfolio standard. FirstEnergy Solutions, an unregulated subsidiary of Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp., filed its force majeure application seeking a waiver in April 2010. The company was 58 solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) short of its 2009 target, procuring 246 out of the necessary 304 SRECs. In its decision last week, the Commission granted FirstEnergy Solutions' request but ordered the company to make up its 2009 shortfall in 2010. The Commission's order is available here.


 
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Feb 24, 2011

Study finds solar-plant costs in Toledo lowest in U.S.
 

A recent study conducted for the state of Oregon finds that Toledo, Ohio, has the overall lowest costs for solar-panel manufacturing when compared to ten other states with solar-panel production. According to this article in The (Toledo) Blade, the 2010 study also finds that when operating a parts supplier plant, Ohio—and particularly Toledo—trails only Utah, New Mexico and North Carolina in lowest costs.

"The Toledo region is definitely the most progressive within the state of Ohio and it's becoming more widely known as a place to manufacture [photovoltaic products],” said the study's co-author, Michelle Comerford, managing director of Austin Consulting in Cleveland, Ohio. “The economic developers are certainly doing their jobs there in Toledo."

The Oregon study is somewhat in contrast to a Blade investigation a year ago that found Ohio had early success in the solar industry in part because of solar research at University of Toledo, but it lost out on thousands of solar manufacturing jobs in recent years to states offering more incentives and stronger product markets.


 
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Feb 21, 2011

PUCO defers Duke's 2009 in-state solar requirement
 

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio recently issued an order deferring Duke Energy Ohio's 2009 in-state solar requirement under Ohio's renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Duke filed its force majeure application seeking a waiver in April 2010. The utility was 80 solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) short of its 2009 target, procuring 264 out of the necessary 344 SRECs. In its application, Duke asked the Commission to count 80 Pennsylvania SRECs as Ohio SRECs. In its decision last week, the Commission denied the request and ordered Duke to make up its 2009 shortfall in 2010. Duke has not indicated whether it plans to submit another force majeure application covering its 2010 solar requirements under the RPS, a course recently followed by FirstEnergy


 
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Feb 14, 2011

Ohio solar start-up poised for breakthrough
 

The (Toledo) Blade reports that after nearly three years of delays in its announced production schedule, Perrysburg-based Willard & Kelsey Solar Group LLC started commercial production of solar panels last month. Its first line is running at about 20 percent capacity, but the company's executives say they hope that line will reach full production by mid-March, according to the report. It expects by year's end to have 250 employees, up from about 90 now. CEO Michael Cicak said the company plans to run four production lines out of its 262,000-square-foot plant, generating each year about 300 megawatts of solar capacity, or 4 million panels. 


 
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Feb 10, 2011

FirstEnergy defends attempt to receive waiver of solar requirement
 

A segment aired on WKSU, Kent State University's public radio station, details FirstEnergy's attempt to receive a waiver of its in-state solar requirement for 2010 under Ohio's renewable portfolio standard. FirstEnergy claims that Ohio's solar market is too underdeveloped to produce the solar energy resources necessary to comply. As the segment notes,

[a]nother Ohio utility, American Electric Power, contracted its solar requirement from a developer who built Ohio’s largest solar array in Wyandot County. It’s also contracted with a Spanish company to build an even larger solar field over an abandoned strip mine in southern Ohio.

First Energy’s Ellen Raines says that’s fine for AEP, but First Energy is not getting into the solar energy business – “we really don’t have expertise as an operator of renewable resources." But, she says, they are willing to support the development of solar energy.

The full segment is available here.


 
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Feb 10, 2011

Campbell Soup signs deal for 10 MW solar system at its plant in Napoleon, Ohio
 

Campbell Soup Company announced that it has entered into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with BNB Napoleon Solar LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of BNB Renewable Energy Holdings, of Exton, PA, to construct a 9.8-megawatt capacity PV solar power generation system on 60 acres at the company's largest plant in Napoleon, Ohio.

Campbell will lease the land to BNB, which will own the system and be responsible for its financing, construction, operation and maintenance. Under the PPA, Campbell will purchase all of the electrical power generated by the system. FirstEnergy Solutions will purchase the solar renewable energy credits from the project. Over the course of the 20-year PPA, Campbell expects to save up to $4 million dollars on energy costs.


 
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Feb 09, 2011

DOE releases second edition of solar energy guide
 

As part of SunShot, an initiative to dramatically reduce the cost of installed solar energy technologies by the end of the decade, the Department of Energy (DOE) has introduced the second edition of Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments. The guide is a comprehensive resource designed to help communities accelerate their adoption of solar energy technologies. Additionally, the guide is intended to help communities better understand the steps necessary to permit and license solar energy installations, and how to streamline those processes and deliver significant savings.

Solar Powering Your Community: A Guide for Local Governments also offers communities guidance on how to expand the use of solar energy, and ways local governments can tailor their approach to implementing solar projects based on their community and local circumstances. The guide is available online here.


 
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Feb 07, 2011

Toledo news roundup: solar arrays thrive despite winter weather, opposition to Michigan wind farms on the rise
 

The (Toledo) Blade published two worthwhile articles in the past week that help give a snapshot of the renewable industry in Northwest Ohio. The first details the resiliency and production capabilities of solar arrays in the face of severe winter weather. The second details growing opposition to wind farms in Southern Michigan that is spilling across the border into Ohio.


 
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Jan 26, 2011

FirstEnergy fails to meet 2010 solar benchmark
 

Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. is asking the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to lower its 2010 solar requirement under the state's renewable portfolio standard because, according to the utility, there were not enough in-state solar renewable energy credits ("SRECs") available for purchase. In a so-called "force majeure" filing with the Commission, FirstEnergy said that, despite its best efforts, it was able to procure just 112 of the 3,026 in-state SRECs it needed to meet its solar benchmark. The utility is asking the Commission to lower its 2010 in-state solar requirement to the 112 SRECs it was able to purchase. The full filing is available here (pdf required). 


 
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Jan 20, 2011

Cincinnati Zoo starts installation of 1.5-MW solar array
 

As reported in The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is installing a solar array that will begin providing about a fifth of the park's energy needs by April. Workers this week began installing the first of 6,400 panels on metal canopy structures. The zoo says it will be the country's largest urban solar array accessible to the public. According to the article, Melink Corp., based in Clermont County's Union Township, is the developer and designer of the $11 million, 1.56-megawatt project, and will own and operate the system.


 
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Jan 19, 2011

Report: solar trade war could be on the horizon
 

The news agency Reuters has a worthwhile article this week examining the prospects of a solar industry trade war with China over the country's special treatment of its solar manufacturers. As the article notes, "resentment [at the Chinese government] in western capitals is growing."

Virtually non-existent a decade ago, Chinese solar companies now control two thirds of solar cell production in the $39 billion global PV market. Critics say this is mostly because the generous subsidies they receive at home give them an advantage over other countries' manufacturers and restrictions keep foreign companies from competing for China's domestic projects. European and U.S. subsidies are designed to boost solar usage no matter who builds the hardware. Chinese subsidies, western firms complain, help Chinese solar manufacturers alone.

First Solar, one of the world's largest solar manufacturers, which has a major manufacturing facility in Perrysburg, Ohio, and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) both make appearances in the article. Sen. Brown is quoted as saying: "I think [the United States is] always afraid of a trade war so we don't act. The Chinese are never afraid of a trade war so they do act. And that's why they're beating us in too many cases on clean energy and other industrial concerns."


 
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Dec 06, 2010

NY Times: Midwest emerges as solar manufacturing center
 

An article in The New York Times highlights the substantial and growing solar manufacturing industry in the Midwest and focuses specifically on Michigan and Ohio. The report finds a region well-suited for the so-called "clean economy": 

A number of conditions in the Midwest have allowed the sector to flourish. The upper Midwest has a history of advanced manufacturing, and machined parts and many of the basic materials of photovoltaic panels — polycrystalline in central Michigan, glass in the Toledo region, plastic films in Ohio — were already being made in the region.

Both states have an abundance of shuttered plants that can be readily converted to new uses and are close to highway, rail and shipping supply lines in the center of the country.

Equally important, both states have an army of unemployed or underemployed skilled manufacturing workers.


 
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Dec 02, 2010

Ohio Senator Brown leads call for extension of manufacturing tax credit
 

United States Senator Sherrod Brown and 17 other Senators have asked Congress to renew and extend the "48(C)" Clean Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit now that the current program has run out of funds.  In a letter submitted to U.S. Senate leadership, the group asked that the tax credit be extended with an additional $5 billion to pay for projects that meet the program's qualifications.  48(C) provides a 30 percent tax credit for domestic companies investing in new, expanded, or reequipped clean energy manufacturing projects - including wind, solar, hybrids, and carbon capture and sequestration.
 
"The 48C program is critical to helping manufacturers create jobs and transition to a clean energy economy,” Brown said. “An expanded 48C program would provide strong incentives for the private sector to create good-paying jobs and innovative clean technologies while we bolster domestic manufacturing capacity.”
 
48(C) was first introduced as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
 
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Nov 09, 2010

More midterms news analysis: gauging the impact on Toledo’s solar industry
 

The (Toledo) Blade joined the list of news publications analyzing the impact of the midterm elections on the U.S. renewable energy market, and specifically, the solar industry in the Toledo area. According to the report, despite a growing U.S. solar energy market, a changing political landscape – including the sweeping success of Republicans in last week’s election and the pending expiration of important government incentives – is presenting challenges for the industry.


 
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Nov 01, 2010

Campbell Soup developing solar facility to power Ohio plant
 

Campbell Soup Co. is moving ahead with plans to develop a $21.6 million solar facility that will provide power to its factory in Napoleon, Ohio, the company's largest, according to this article in The (Toledo) Blade. Campell is working in conjunction with Pennsylvania-based BNB Renewable Energy LLC, which plans to finance, develop, own, and operate the facility. The Ohio Department of Development recently approved a $10.5 million loan this week for BNB. According to the article, state officials said Campbell plans to sign a 20-year power-purchase agreement to buy all the energy produced through the proposed facility, which would generate about 50 MW a year.


 
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Oct 29, 2010

Report: Incentive uncertainty set to slow solar development
 

Uncertainty about two major federal renewable energy incentives could considerably slow solar development in the United States, according to this article in The New York Times. The first is a loan guarantee program, expiring next September, that allows solar developers to borrow money on favorable terms to finance up to 80 percent of construction costs. The other is the option to take a 30 percent tax credit in the form of a cash payment once a project is built. As the article notes, although the tax credit does not expire until the end of 2016, the option to take it as a cash payment disappears this year, making it far less valuable to a start-up company that is just beginning to generate revenue. With both Democrats and Republicans promising to rein in the federal budget, it is unclear whether lawmakers will extend the programs in any form.


 
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Oct 19, 2010

Ohio solar industry jobs set to increase 6 percent in 2011
 

A report by the non-profit Solar Foundation estimates that the number of solar industry jobs in Ohio will increase by 6 percent in the coming year. The report estimates that Ohio's solar installers and manufacturers currently employ about 1,088. News coverage of the report is available here and here. The full report is available here.

A parallel study released a week ago by the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group, put Ohio in the top five for growth in solar installations in the first half of the ye