Cincinnati’s solar array is now fully online – WVXU

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Cincinnati’s 100-megawatt solar array in is now fully online, three years after construction began.

The 900-acre solar farm in Highland County is about 40 miles east of the city. City officials have said it’s the largest municipal solar project in the country.

Director of Environment and Sustainability Ollie Kroner says the project went under contract shortly before the pandemic.

“You can imagine some of the delays,” Kroner told WVXU. “Severe supply chain challenges — we had panels sitting in customs for close to a year awaiting clearance before they could be delivered here to Ohio. When a project experiences that type of delays, then there become contractual issues to negotiate. So it was a long row, but we got here.”

The array has been coming online in sections, with the first section coming online in March 2022. The electricity generated is powering city government buildings. As of May 1, the power also goes to resident homes through the Energy Aggregation Program, which allows the city to negotiate utility prices on behalf of citizens and small businesses.

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It’s a significant step toward the city’s goal, in the Green Cincinnati Plan, of reaching net carbon neutrality by 2050. Kroner says focus is now shifting to the next large-scale renewable energy project.

“We will be issuing a request for proposals to invite our future partners to the table in looking for the next clean energy solutions,” Kroner said. “And we have some ideas of what that might look like, but we invite innovation and creative approaches.”

It’s been a year since the latest Green Cincinnati Plan was approved, and Kroner says the city has been part of more than $250 million in grant applications in the last year.

The city won’t win all those awards, but so far, about $30 million has already been approved.

“We set out to attract $25 million of external funding [over five years] to advance the Green Cincinnati Plan,” Kroner said. “Here we are one year in and we’ve already blown past that.”

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Actually spending all that money is its own challenge.

“We really have a whole lot of momentum, more momentum than we’ve ever had,” Kroner said. “I’m very excited about what is now in the pipeline.”

You can learn more about the Green Cincinnati Plan and track the city’s progress in achieving its goals online.

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