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Solar Mo-Jo in Ohio

By Bill Spratley
Green Energy Ohio

“Going Solar in Ohio” is a Mo-Jo or “Momentous Journey” as each month, clean energy moves forward with the efforts of the Ohio Department of Development’s Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE), non-profits like Green Energy Ohio (GEO) and the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), and several municipal public power systems. A new association of Ohio renewable energy businesses also started up and moved to diversify the state’s energy mix.

Photovoltaic systems continue to be installed across Ohio, especially on schools and public buildings. Most of these schools result from the efforts of FEE and OEE. An OEE web site designed to link real time information from solar units on over 40 Ohio schools is under construction.

The GEO solar tours in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Athens areas drew hundreds of participants in October 2002. The Sept./Oct. Solar Tour edition of SOLAR TODAY with a cover photo of a hybrid PV/wind system at Victory Farms near Columbus also featured a story on GEO, the American Solar Energy Society Chapter in Ohio.

GEO is working to expand the Ohio Solar Tour, in part by sponsoring six regional wind & solar power workshops across Ohio in 2003 including the Cleveland, Toledo, Cincinnati, Dayton, Akron and Columbus areas. This effort builds on the November Ohio Wind Power Conference, attended by 350 people from 54 of the state’s 88 counties. Hybrid, small wind and PV systems were identified and promoted at this conference with a new Ohio wind resource map and wind working group underway as a result.

During the past year, OEE funded statewide conferences on biomass, distributed generation, and small wind applications. These events promoted the agency’s Energy Loan Fund for small renewable energy systems, along with the incentives provided in Ohio’s net metering law and financing available from the Ohio Air Quality Authority.

A series of successful training sessions were held in 2002 for PV installers. These were conducted by GEO, OEE, Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association and Florida Solar Energy Center. Owens Community College near Toledo is preparing to train installers on a regular basis in Ohio. GEO, OEE and others will be working with Owens to meet this need for certified installers.

An Ohio Clean Energy Business Association (OCEBA) was announced on April 22, 2002 bringing together 10 Ohio renewable energy firms, including First Solar, a PV manufacturer at Perrysburg; Vanner, Inc, a renewable energy inverter manufacturer at Hilliard; Texaco Ovonic, a maker of advanced batteries at Springboro; Advanced Distributed Generation at Maumee; Dovetail Solar at Glouster; and Third Sun Solar & Wind Power at Millfield.

After meeting as a roundtable with support of OEE and GEO, the new business association crafted a set of recommendations including: 1) The procurement of green power by state government; 2) Establishing renewable energy grants and low-interest loans from the state system benefit charge; 3) Removing barriers to distributed generation; and 4) Creating a renewable energy standard.

A market for green power is close at hand in Ohio as the Bowling Green Municipal Utility prepares for the state’s first commercial wind park with up to 4 wind turbines of at least 1.5 MW each. The muni utility already has the state’s only green power rate from low-impact hydro and landfill gas. Other munis are joining Bowling Green’s push for green power as well as Green Mountain Energy Company, which provides cleaner power into several large municipal aggregations of customers.

Bowling Green State University and the local muni continue to move forward on a plan to place a 374 kW PV system at the site of the campus ice arena. Upon completion, this PV system would be the largest East of the Mississippi. Combined with the state’s first commercial wind farm nearby, the Mo-Jo for Solar in Ohio promises to reverberate in the state’s bicentennial year to open a new Ohio Solar Century!

For more information visit www.GreenEnergyOhio.org.

Source: IREC's CONNECTIONS News, Spring '03

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