What’s the future for solar energy in Ohio?
With it’s long and dreary winters, you might not think of Ohio as a booming market for solar energy. But with several massive solar projects recently approved and announced in the Buckeye state, that is about to change. The announced projects which will be located primarily in southwest Ohio, the sunniest part of the state, will more than double green energy capacity in Ohio.
Difficulties with solar energy in Ohio.
If you have looked into the cost of installing solar panels to your home and found the initial price too high to justify, you may be wondering how solar power can reduce Ohio electric rates. It’s true that residential solar costs are tough to swallow, but on a utility scale, production costs go down considerably. According to Lazard’s levelized cost of energy, coal costs $60-143 while solar costs $46-53 on a utility scale per MW. On average, that makes solar half the cost of coal.
Solar is not without its issues for cheap energy in Ohio. Compared to other parts of the country, sun exposure in Ohio is quite a bit less. The NREL Solar Irradiance data shows Ohio gets 4-4.25 kWh of sunlight per meter per day, where the southwest gets 5.75 kWh/m/day or more. This means that solar panels in Arizona will produce about one-third more electricity than panels in Ohio.
But even with less available sunlight, solar is still a cheap and efficient choice for electricity in Ohio. At half the cost of coal to produce, it is easier to approve than wind power with virtually no concern for environmental impact.
Public demand for renewable energy driving investment in solar projects.
The recent push for solar energy in Ohio is a direct response to public demand for renewable energy.
In Vinton County, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) recently approved a 125 MW solar energy project with the capacity to power 15,000 homes. Hecate Energy has filed a pre-application with the OPSB for a 300 MW solar energy project in Highland County.
AEP will provide grid interconnection infrastructure for many of these projects, and already has approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to begin construction on transmission lines.
Not only do these solar projects make cheap energy more available to Ohio suppliers and energy customers, but they also create thousands of jobs and increase the state’s GDP by millions of dollars.
Ohio solar projects and cheaper electric rates.
Even now, with more solar power on the grid, companies using green energy supplies are likely to offer lower rates. You can probably lower your electric bill just by comparing electric plans apples-to-apples. Just remember to keep renewable energy in mind when you shop for a new electricity supplier at Ohio Energy Ratings.