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March 2015 News

Newspaper & Electronic News - 2015 
                                      (Listed with most recent news stories first)
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March 28, 2015

Green Energy Ohio brings solar business workshop to Toledo
Toledo Free Press
The state’s solar industry leaders came to Toledo for Ohio’s first ever seminar on large scale and community solar energy projects held at the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion on March 27. Ohio’s Big Solar Business Workshop was an in-depth seminar discussing Ohio’s largest solar arrays and the emerging issue of community solar projects.  The content and participants in the workshop certainly had a Northwest Ohio flavor. “Welcome to Toledo. We’re so glad you’re here,” said Lucas County Commissioner Tina Skeldon Wozniak to the audience most of which she soon discovered came from outside Lucas County. She mentioned that the county was investigating the use of solar energy at some of its facilities. Bill Spratley, executive director of Green Energy Ohio and editor of its magazine, also welcomed attendees at the workshop. The winter edition of Green Energy Ohio magazine featured several articles about the workshop and solar projects included in its first list of the 25 Largest Solar Photovoltaic Arrays.

Toledo Museum of Art combined heat and power system marks energy-saving milestone
Alt Energy Magazine
A combined heat and power (CHP) system at the Toledo Museum of Art has surpassed 400,000 hours of operation – contributing to the Museum's overall savings of 80 percent of electricity use per year. Representatives from Capstone Turbine and GEM Energy presented an award to the Toledo Museum of Art in recognition of the CHP system operations milestone at a Green Energy Ohio workshop at the Museum. The four C65 Capstone microturbines on-site supply heating and electricity through cogeneration. The microturbine system supplies the museum with 260kW of continuous electricity and 1.6 million btu of heat, equal to the amount of electricity consumed by 20 homes.
 
March 27, 2014
 
Gilmour students show off wind energy smarts: Messen' Around
Cleveland Plain Dealer
GATES MILLS, Ohio- Several Gilmour Academy fifth and sixth-grade students achieved success March 24 with their participation in the Kid Wind Challenge at the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center in Brecksville. The competition was an optional after-school opportunity that allowed the students to work with science instructor Lynne Sojda, as they studied renewable energy in class and built wind turbines. The students designed and created wind turbines for the competition, where teams from around Ohio competed for the most creative and functional turbine. They had to present their project and field questions about wind energy from a panel of judges.

March 25, 2014

Cleveland steps up on energy efficiency challenge

Midwest Energy News
Representatives of the U.S. Department of Energy and the City of Cleveland were on hand Monday at the city’s Fire Station No. 1 to recognize local leaders in DOE’s Better Buildings Challenge. Participants in the federal program publicly commit to decrease their energy consumption by at least 20 percent over a 10-year period and to share their know-how with others. Energy efficiency is a key part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan.

March 24, 2014
 
With Potential Repeal Of RPS, Wind Developers In Lone Star State Face Texas-Sized Headaches
North American Windpower
If a Texas Republican has his way, the state will end its renewable portfolio standard (RPS), undo the billion-dollar competitive renewable energy zones (CREZ) initiative and relinquish its status as the No. 1 state for wind energy generation. Introduced by Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, S.B.931, "relating to the goal for renewable energy and [CREZ]," would end Texas' RPS at the end of the year while undoing the massive, $7 billion-plus CREZ project that unlocked bottlenecked wind areas through the building of transmission lines.
 
March 22, 2015
 
Motorcars is expanding, and much more efficient Company's Honda dealership spending $1.7M on solar panels
Crain's Cleveland Business
When the new solar array at Motorcars Honda in Cleveland Heights is complete, the Mayfield Road dealership will be able to provide for about 70% of its energy needs, said general manager and co-owner Trevor Gile. Not only that, but the emissions released by new cars sold by the dealership will be totally offset by the panels' output for the next seven to nine years, Gile said. Motorcars is in the midst of a big overhaul at its Honda dealership at 2953 Mayfield Road in Cleveland Heights. The company is investing $6 million into the dealership, with about $1.7 million going to the solar panels. The solar panel investment is eligible for a 30% federal tax credit.
 
March 21, 2015
 
Ohio's 25 Largest Solar Photovoltaic Arrays
GEO News Magazine Winter 2015
Intro page on study by GEO's Emily Sautter describing the big solar arrays across Ohio.  This article can be read page to page at: http://www.readoz.com/publication?i=1065904 or as individual pages at: http://www.greenenergyohio.org/page.cfm?pageID=4037
 
Can Ohio-Built Big Solar Serve More Communities?
GEO News Magazine Winter 2015
We are pleased to present an Ohio first – our March 27 Toledo Workshop exploring how
the big solar mosaic fits together across the state and how new big solar installations can
provide more solar power to the people of Ohio. Our workshop venue in the Glass Pavilion of the world-class Toledo Museum of Art is enhanced by the museum’s two solar arrays and impressive clean energy applications.
 
Clean Technica
As multiliteracies is the way of modern education, decent computers in schools are a must. Into the Wind reports that lack of computers in Ohio is now a past issue, thanks to wind: “The communities hosting the Blue Creek Wind Farm are already seeing benefits. Local school superintendent Jeff Snyder said wind farm funds have helped his school district go from having two computer labs in the entire district to now being able to provide all 915 of its students with a computer.”
 
March 18, 2015
 
Ohio Pressed Pause on Economic Growth When It Froze Its Clean Energy Standards
Environmental Defense Fund
Ohio shot itself in the foot last year and we’re only now learning just how bad the damage is.
In May of 2014, the Ohio Legislature froze the state’s energy efficiency and renewable energy standards as a result of political pressure from Ohio’s largest power company, FirstEnergy, and other groups. This freeze came after efficiency measures led to more than $1 billion in savings for Ohioans, clean energy companies invested more than $660 million in 2012 alone, Ohio boasted the nation’s largest number of wind-component manufacturing facilities, and the state created 43,000 in-state jobs within the clean energy sector.
 
Wind May Win The Renewable Race – But At What Price?
Oil Price
You only need to drive the long, lonely stretches of highway in west Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Colorado or even parts of California to know that wind farms have become prolific across America. In fact, there are over 48,000 wind turbines spinning their blades in at least 39 states including Alaska, Hawaii and even in Puerto Rico....According to the DOE, wind has become the fastest-growing source of alternative energy since 2000. In 2008, the report claims, wind provided just 1.5% of the nation’s total electricity needs. That jumped to 4.5-percent by 2013, a number mostly validated by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).  The DOE predicts wind power will jump to 10-percent by the end of the decade, then 20-percent by 2030 and possibly as high as 35-percent by 2050. The American Wind Energy Association agrees that a 20-percent market penetration is possible in fifteen years. On a global perspective, ExxonMobil, in their 2014 Energy Outlook to 2040 is not quite as optimistic, forecasting that fossil fuels will still provide approximately 70-percent of the world’s energy demand in twenty-five years, with wind and solar combined only generating approximately 4-percent of global demand. 
 

March 16, 2015
 
First Solar: A Sunny Outlook
GEO News Magazine article in Winter 2015
What started out as a research project at the University of Toledo in 1991, took hold and grew into what has become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of photovoltaic (PV) thin film solar modules, in addition to being a global leader in the development and construction of utility-scale solar farms around the world.  First Solar, Inc., with primary production and R&D facilities in Perrysburg, traces its roots to experiments spearheaded by entrepreneur Harold McMaster into early solar panel design and manufacture. The “Glass City” provided early efforts with proximity to high quality materials, competent engineers and a workforce skilled in large-scale manufacturing. As technology matured and manufacturing processes took shape, the company that became First Solar set off on a mission to provide the world with clean, affordable, renewable solar energy.
 
Role of Ohio-made Nextronex Inverters in Ohio's Largest Solar Installations
GEO News Magazine Winter 2015
Solar represents a unique opportunity to Ohio. With its strong manufacturing tradition, the State ranks 16th in the nation in total installed solar capacity, but 2nd in the number of solar-related manufacturers. 86 companies in the state produce solar equipment. This phenomenon makes solar investment relatively more valuable to Ohio than other states, since solar developments in the state translate into more manufacturing jobs.  Toledo-based Nextronex, Inc. is proud to be one of those 86 solar-related manufacturing companies. Nextronex makes solar inverters, which convert the DC power produced by solar modules into the AC power used by the grid and most electrical devices.

Moving Green Energy Ohio Forward in Our 15th Year
GEO News Magazine Winter 2015
As we pause after 15 years to acknowledge the good works of GEO and envision a greener future, support our efforts and messages to the people of Ohio, all of whom benefit from the reality of a Green Energy Ohio. Thank you again for moving GEO forward in our 15th year.
 
Midwest Energy News
As FirstEnergy awaits a decision on its proposed electric security plan after a similar proposal from American Electric Power (AEP) was rejected by regulators last month, broader themes about Ohio’s energy future are emerging in the debate. The plan recommended by FirstEnergy would have Ohio electricity consumers pay for operating costs of what critics deem two inefficient power plants; the Davis-Besse nuclear plant near Toledo and the W.H. Sammis coal-fired plant FirstEnergy operates on the Ohio River. An evidentiary hearing on  the FirstEnergy proposal is scheduled to be held at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) offices on April 13. The PUCO ruled last month that AEP’s similar proposal failed to promote rate stability or overwhelmingly prove that it was in the public interest. Opponents of FirstEnergy’s plan, who have characterized the proposals as “bailouts,” believe it should meet a similar fate.

March 15, 2015
 
Historic Toledo Museum of Art Building Routinely Goes "Off the Grid” After 20 Years of Implementing Green Initiative
GEO News Magazine Winter 2015
On May 21, 2013 the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) achieved a milestone in its 20-year effort to reduce energy consumption: the 101-year-old Beaux Arts main building stopped drawing power from the electrical grid and actually started returning power to the system, thanks to a recently-added solar array. The addition of a 360 kilowatt (kW) solar canopy installed over a large portion of a renovated main parking lot pushed the Museum into energy production rather than consumption. The canopy joined an existing 200 kW solar array on the roof of the main Museum. On sunny days, electrical demand for the 250,000 sq. ft. building is now provided by the sun, nicely coinciding with Museum operating hours and peak energy usage. Through the use of sustainable energy practices such as solar power, energy-efficient lighting, micro turbines and chillers, TMA has been able to improve the visitor experience, maintain the highest standards, and save hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.
 
Solar Car Canopy Capitalizes on Underutilized Parking Asset
GEO News Magazine Winter 2015
Settle Muter Electric was contracted in 2014 to build a solar parking structure at a two building office complex located at 690 and 700 Taylor Rd. in Gahanna, Ohio. The project is the first of its kind in the Franklin County area and serves as the 3rd largest solar carport in the Midwest as of late 2014. Settle Muter Electric worked with Tad Ritter of Willow Companies to develop the project for property owner Duff Industries, Inc. array produces 538 kW of power that is distributed to both buildings through a Ray Max Power Podium inverter system designed by Nextronex, of Toledo.
 
Solarize Cleveland Brings Affordable Solar Energy to Northeast Ohio
GEO News Magazine Winter 2015
Solarize Cleveland is a collaborative effort by Sustainable Cleveland 2019, the World Wildlife Fund, Environmental Health Watch and Geostellar. Solarize Cleveland seeks to reduce the cost of solar installations, thereby increasing the profitability for homeowners and stabilizing the market for solar energy.

March 13, 2015
Athens County Goes Solar using Old Law in a New Way
GEO News Magazine Winter 2015M
Empower Gas and Electric, headquartered in Columbus, , collaborated with several partners to propose a set of innovative programs, including locally generated solar electricity from a planned 3 megawatt solar array to be built on a capped landfill owned by the county. This project will be developed, built and operated by Third Sun Solar, a locally based solar firm that approached Empower with the idea during the RFP process.  AEP Energy is providing the basic electricity (25% from wind) at a rate that will enable the average household to enjoy a 28% savings on the generation and transmission costs compared to the Price To Compare as provided by AEP Ohio. Plans also include an innovative community solar model allowing renters or those with shaded rooftops to invest in community solar on other rooftops.
 
Clean Energy Works for Us: Energy Optimizers in Tipp City, Ohio
Energy Optimizers
Near Dayton, Ohio, the CEO of a fast-growing energy efficiency company explains why commonsense state- and federal-level policies do more than just cut energy waste -- they also grow our economy and protect our environment.
 
Denison gets OK for solar array
Columbus Dispatch
Denison University received the green light from the Granville Village Council on Wednesday to fill about 8 acres of its 350-acre Biological Reserve with solar panels, despite the objections of neighbors who live near the site....The university announced its intent to work with American Electric Power to install about 5,000 solar panels in October. According to the agreement, AEP Energy will provide the panels and sell the solar-generated electricity to Denison.  The plan is in accordance with Denison’s pledge to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and become carbon neutral by 2030. The university already has three small solar arrays operating, including one atop the Doane Library, and has invested nearly $2 million in 62 energy-saving projects since 2011, saving about $300,000 per year, representing about 10 percent of its annual energy cost.
 
Progressives hold out Ohio as an example not to follow for states that want to foster renewable energy industries
Crain's Cleveland Business
Ohio is being held out as a model for other states — of what not to do if they want to foster a renewable energy industry.  That’s the message from environmentalists, wind and solar energy companies and backers of renewable energy generally, in a report from the Washington D.C.-based Center for American Progress titled “Economic Damage from Freezing Ohio’s Clean Energy Standards Provides Cautionary Tale for Other States.”
 
March 12, 2015
 
Installing Large-Scale Solar PV in Ohio
GEO News Magazine Winter 2015
Designing and installing large scale PV systems that work as expected for years takes a combination of good design, quality installation and reliable components. In addition, an understanding of how to integrate renewable generating capacity with utility functions is key. Regional considerations like utility interconnection and climate play an important rolein the long term reliability that results in a successful project.  The installation process starts with a concept for a site and a design team that has the experience to put the concept on paper.
 
Honda Workers’ Wind Powering Dream Exceeds Expectations
GEO News Magazine Winter 2015
What began as a dream in the minds of two associates to provide a groundbreaking renewable energy source to one of the nation’s largest auto manufacturers, has now completed its first full year of operation, and the wind turbines at the Honda Transmission Mfg. of America (HTM) plant in Russells Point, Ohio have helped Honda progress towards reaching its environmental goals. The turbine project that was in development for more than four years, involved an incredible amount of detailed research investigating all aspects of wind energy, was jointly developed by Juhl Energy of Pipestone, Minnesota and Honda. The initial goal was that the wind turbines would generate 10 percent of the plant’s annual electricity needs.  Located on some of the highest ground in the state, the turbines outperformed those initial expectations, and produced nearly 13 percent of the plant’s energy for 2014. In fact in six of the year’s 12 months, the turbines actually produced more than 15% of the plant’s energy. The wind project has not only provided renewable energy for the facility, but has also operated without any substantial problems, allowing the plant to rely on consistent power from the project....

Polls Show Public Rejects McConnell's Carbon Pollution Plea
Switchboard - NRDC
Recently, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell launched an effort to dismantle the EPA's proposal to set the first-ever limits on carbon pollution, by calling on states to refuse to submit plans to the EPA outlining how they would cut pollution....The opinion that may be of greater interest to Republican leaders - especially Governors - is that majorities of republicans in four major coal-reliant states clearly do want their states to design their own plans to meet EPA carbon standards, according to bipartisan polling NRDC is releasing today. The poll, conducted for NRDC by the bipartisan team of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3) and Public Opinion Strategies (POS), surveyed about 400 registered voters in each of Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, via landline and cell phone. The polling team found that clear majorities in each state support the Clean Power Plan: 58 percent of Ohioans, 60 percent of Pennsylvanians, 64 percent of Virginians and 66 percent of Illinoisans.
 
Ohio's Electricity Grid Operator: Cutting Carbon and Charting a Clean Energy Course Can Bring Financial Benefits to the State
Switchboard - Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC)
...Earlier this month, PJM-- the regional authority that ensures reliable and low-cost power across the electric grid in 14 states, including Ohio--released its economic analysis of the EPA's Clean Power Plan (CPP), which delivers the first-ever limits on climate-change causing carbon pollution from the oldest and dirtiest power plants.
 

March 11, 2015
 
Community Solar in Michigan
GEO News Magazine Winter 2015
Community Solar has generated a lot of interest and excitement in Michigan. The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association (GLREA) began exploring the potential of Community Solar in August of 2012 and made it one of the organization’s priorities for 2013. GLREA encouraged Michigan utilities to offer a program for their electric customers, researched potential barriers, and began educating policy makers and the general public about the benefits of Community Solar. In April 2013, GLREA was awarded a grant from the Michigan Energy Office to research and develop A Guidebook for Community Solar Programs in Michigan Communities. The guidebook was completed in October 2013 and can be downloaded from www.glrea.org.
 
Owens Corning project would energize parking lot
Toledo Blade
Employees of Owens Corning in downtown Toledo will soon be driving their vehicles into an improved 11-acre parking lot re-energized with solar panel canopies. Owens Corning will ask the Toledo Plan Commission on Thursday to review a special-use permit application for parking lot improvements and a 2.4-megawatt solar canopy system. The solar panels, which will be assembled on steel and concrete supports, will shelter employee vehicles from the elements and help replace electric consumption with renewable solar energy at the Fortune 400 company’s headquarters, said Jim Eckert, director of corporate real estate. “We will be able to generate about 3 million kilowatt hours per year, which is pretty close to 30 percent of our [electric] load here,” Mr. Eckert said.
 
March 10, 2015
 
Study of Ohio’s 25 Largest Solar Arrays & Ohio’s First-Ever Big Solar Business & Community Solar Workshop
Green Energy Ohio News Release
Green Energy Ohio (GEO) released a study of the current
25 largest grid-tied solar arrays representing 57% of the solar electric capacity located in 17 counties across the Buckeye State. This report was prepared as GEO coordinates Ohio’s first-ever statewide seminar on large solar arrays and discussion of community solar policies on March 27, 2015 in Toledo. GEO Wind Program Manager Emily Sautter researched key facts about the 25 largest solar photovoltaic (PV) installations in the state using data on each of the systems obtained from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio as of January 21, 2015 and contacts involved in the projects. Key findings of the GEO Study released on-line today in the GEO News Magazine show:
 - The top 25 systems represent 66.9 MW of the 116.8 MW, or about 57% of the total solar PV
 installed across Ohio.
 - The majority of the 25 largest solar PV installations are located in Northwest Ohio (13) followed by Southwest Ohio (6), Northeast Ohio (4), and Central Ohio (2).
 - Sites for the ground-mount and rooftop applications include Ohio airports, factories, municipal and investor-owned utilities, commercial buildings, zoos, schools, universities, and other locations.
 
First Solar: A key player in the global solar power industry
Market Realist
...First Solar provides a host of services—such as solar power plant design, construction services, and plant maintenance as well as financing services. The segment primarily uses panels manufactured by the Components segment and builds solar power plants for utilities, independent power producers, industrial customers, et cetera.  The company also owns and operates some solar power plants. To date, First Solar has installed over 10 gigawatts (or GW) of solar panels, including the recently commissioned Topaz Solar Farm in California with a capacity of 550 megawatts—the world’s largest solar farm. SunEdison (SUNE) also designs and develops solar power plants.
Center for American Progress
To understand whether S.B. 310 and H.B. 483 are beginning to chill investment in Ohio and erode the progress made by its clean energy sector, the Center for American Progress interviewed business leaders and experts in renewable energy and energy efficiency across the state. All spoke to the uncertainty created in the clean energy sector, and all reported negative impacts of the recent legislation. For example, some have had to stall hiring or lay off employees; some are shifting their operations to other states; some are experiencing a downturn in business or difficulty attracting new investment; and some have had to cancel projects that the new legislation made economically unviable...The full implications of S.B. 310 and H.B. 483 will become clearer over the course of the coming year. However, the initial evidence indicates that the legislation is saddling Ohioans with economic harms and will come to represent a missed opportunity for Ohio to lead the country in building a clean energy economy.
 
Renewable energy taxes help local communities
Fierce Energy
Wind energy can be a contentious issue in the communities it exists, but an Ohio wind farm is helping two communities -- through tax dollars.  Wind energy developer Iberdrola Renewables and Ohio state legislators presented checks to school districts in Van Wert County and Paulding County for more than $2.7 million. Iberdola Renewables runs Blue Creek Wind Farm in the state, which spans across both counties. Van Wert County is home to 115 turbines, and received more than $2 million in taxes from the company. Paulding County is home to 37 turbines, and will receive $666,000 this year.
 
March 5, 2015
 
Hog Creek Wind seeks 36-month extension on certificate from Ohio board
Penn Energy
Hog Creek Wind Farm LLC has asked the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) to extend its Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need from March 22, 2015, until March 22, 2018.
The Ohio board is expected to discuss and possibly act on the case during its upcoming meeting on March 9. “Hog Creek has good cause for seeking this 36-month extension considering the recent changes to Ohio's energy market,” the wind firm said in a Feb. 13 filing with the board. “This, coupled with Hog Creek's progress in continuing to develop this project, warrants an extension of Hog Creek's Certificate,” the firm said.

Deepwater Wind Acquires Financing For US Offshore Wind Farm
Clean Technica
Following the disappointment that was (and is) the Cape Wind project off Cape Cod, many had doomed the American offshore wind industry to deep water, but Deepwater Wind has just announced that it has fully financed the Block Island Wind Farm, set to be developed in Rhode Island.  The news came on Monday that Deepwater Wind Block Island Wind Farm had been fully financed, reaching financial close on more than $290 million in project financing from Mandated Lead Arrangers Societe Generale of Paris, France, and KeyBank National Association of Cleveland, Ohio. This announcement completes the necessary debt and equity funding needed to construct and operate the project.
 
Solar Advocates Launch a Targeted Campaign Attacking AEP
Green Tech Media
The tag line of a new website targeting the major investor-owned utility American Electric Power reads: “AEP: Overcharging you for electricity so they can buy politicians to kill competition.”  The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC), a downstream solar advocacy group whose members include SolarCity, Solar Universe, Sungevity, Sunrun, and Verengo, launched the provocative site last week to highlight what it sees as the utility’s “shady tactics” to stifle competition from the solar industry.  As proof that AEP is running a national campaign against consumer choice, the website points to recent lobbying expenditures, proposed rate increases in AEP territory, executive compensation, and the utility’s request for guaranteed income to run its coal-burning plants in Ohio.