Appalachian is a region that has been negatively impacted by coal’s decline, but the cards might soon change for this place. There is a chance it could end up housing one of the biggest projects east of the Rockies. Read on for more information on this new push to go solar.

A Whopping Amount of Solar

There would be 400 megawatts of solar if all goes as planned. American Electric Power presented a strategy to work with two developers to put together the solar project in Highland County, Ohio. This would be triple Ohio’s solar capacity at present. Overall, it would be a huge step in terms of solar in an area where solar has been otherwise slow to make progress.

Over a period of two decades, consumers would save $218 million as solar power coming from this huge solar project would be less costly than conventional sources of energy. The numbers are staggering.

Appalachia, Ohio certainly could benefit from this solar project, according to Ohio energy policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Dan Sawmiller. He believes jobs in relation to the renewable energy economy are going to go somewhere and it is best they go where they are needed.

Should the strategy be approved by regulators in Ohio, it would likely act as a prototype, if you will, for other renewable energy projects.

Economic Growth for Solar Power

Bringing economic development to a region that has been depressed economically is certainly a good thing. There is a large opportunity in terms of economic development for solar power, and this is especially true in areas that have been negatively impacted by the energy transition.

The solar developers and have chosen Highland County, Ohio as the area where they would like to build – it is important to note the unemployment rate here is higher than Ohio’s average. The innovative plan could bring in close to 4,000 new jobs. Many of these would be in construction while others would be in solar manufacturing. With so many still in need of work, the creation of jobs is certainly a huge perk.

A Solar Boom

There is talk about building a 150 megawatt in Hardin County, too. Clearly, there is a solar development boom going on. If the huge progressive farm in gets approved, it would go into service within three years.

AEP’s proposal seeks to have solar developers operate the solar farms on behalf of AEP Ohio. Utility’s customers would foot the costs, but this makes sense because of the environmental benefits and the local economy.

Of course, some disagree with going solar. There are some who argue these steps are a violation of the open market in Ohio for electricity generation. Power plant owners compete to offer the best deals and utility companies do not have ownership of power plants. Other states have open markets for electricity generation, such as a great deal of New England, Texas and more.

Economist at Ohio State University, Ned Hill, claims having a utility pay for particular power plants could potentially stifle investment in challenging ventures— such as other renewable energy/solar projects. Hill has opposed prior plans by energy companies and utilities to promote coal and nuclear plants. Sawmiller believes the way the market is structured has held back the development and growth of renewable/solar energy. Clearly, there are many factors at play, but the chance to go solar and create jobs could be life-changing.

Ohio is seeing a huge demand for renewable energy. Developing this large solar farm would help to meet the demand of consumers. Ohio could become a leader in the production of solar energy in the Midwest. The question is: will it?

There is the opportunity for innovative economic development. Do you think this huge solar farm will come into existence? Are there any solar farms in your area? Continue to follow solar news and stay in the know regarding how renewable energy is changing our world.

Sources:

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/28092018/aep-solar-energy-appalachia-ohio-coal-just-transition-utility-regulatory-battle

https://www.nrdc.org/media/2018/180928

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