Groundbreaking set for June 23, 2011
Westerville, Ohio 43081
Solar energy provider and developer, Solarvision, LLC, presented the City of Celina with a check for $600,000 on Wednesday, May 11, 2011 as solar licensing fees to erect a 3 megawatt solar energy field on the northern 20-acre tract within what will become the Celina Renewable Energy Center. This earmarks the official start of Phase I of the Celina Renewable Energy Center encompassing the purchase of a 60-acre tract zoned for industrial services along Meyer Road just south of State Route 29. The City closed on the purchase of the land on May 13, 2011. The Celina Renewable Energy Center will include the solar field, a biogas plant, lake sediment ponds and manmade wetlands. Under Phase II of the plan, which was signed into contract with SolarVision on April 12, 2011, the City will receive a licensing fee of $700,000 to build an additional 2 megawatts of solar power on an additional 10-acre tract.
This project is the sixth and largest solar power installation for SolarVision in the state of Ohio. The 3 megawatt solar system will encompass approximately 12,000 solar panels on 20 of the 60-acre tract which also houses an existing cell tower. The City of Celina signed a Solar Power Purchase Agreement
with SolarVision on December 7, 2010 to purchase all of the solar plant’s electrical output. The system will be owned, operated, insured and maintained by SolarVision. As a part of the transaction, SolarVision secured $17.7 million in new market tax credits and financing through First Merit Bank.
The Celina Renewable Energy Center has been three years in the making for Kent Bryan, PE, planning and community development director. Bryan was working on a solution to clean-up Grand Lake St. Marys when Mike Dickman, vice president of construction for SolarVision came knocking on his door last fall. Dickman presented a plan to pay the City of Celina a solar licensing fee, enabling the City to purchase 60 acres of privately owned land and relocate the City’s troubled sediment ponds from a location along U.S. 127.
“Mercer County is an agri-community with a large population of live stock,” explains Bryan. “This project is an economic and environmental win for the City of Celina. “With the help of SolarVision and tax credits which offer the up-front money needed for this scale of project, it allows the City of Celina to realize our goal of cleaning up Grand Lake. It also is infusing $1.3 million into the local economy not to mention the economic impact of construction, crew housing and living expenses, and jobs creation.” The cost to the City of Celina is minimal. “This is all private investor-driven development. It is a public-private partnership,” explains Bryan.
The project allows the City to dredge sediment from Grand Lake St. Marys—the City’s drinking water source—and pump it into new settlement ponds that will encompass 10-acres of the site. The nutrient-rich sediments will then be recycled into an organic peat and sold for soil fertilization. Five acres of the site will be allocated to house an Anaerobic Digester which will allow the City to process algae from Grand Lake St. Marys and manure from the Lake’s watershed into a biogas byproduct that can be used for electric power generation. The City has entered into a power purchase agreement with Optional Energy Partners, Inc. which will be solely responsible for the ownership, design, construction, financing, and operations of the digester plant.
The final 30 acres will be allocated to the solar power system which will provide the City with a long term competitive source of energy over the next 20 years. The system will provide up to 8% of the City’s annual energy requirements; much of that power will be delivered during peak demand times. “Our goal is to generate 30 percent of our energy locally,” states Bryan. “When we generate energy that connects directly into the City’s electrical distribution system, we don’t have additional power transmission fees.”
“Indirectly, we are using this project as a means to clean Grand Lake St. Marys which is a tremendous benefit to the greater community. The digester plant will create jobs which will generate income tax which will add to the general fund which will help fund police, fire, parks and other community resources. It will help our community in numerous ways,” stresses Bryan. “The solar energy will be produced on sunny days when additional power is needed and will feed into the main City lines, so all electric customers will be receiving solar energy. Residents will also benefit from the lower energy rates as a part of the 20-year agreement the City has with SolarVision.
SolarVision recently completed its fifth solar energy project for the City of Washington Court House which was one of five projects bundled into a $5.6 million dollar financing deal constructed by SolarVision using new market tax credits. Other solar projects that were a part of the deal include Worthington Evening Street Elementary School, Newcomerstown’s West Elementary and Newcomerstown High School and the Athens Community Center.
“Solar energy has moved into the forefront everywhere because of improvements in incentives and technology,” explains Greg Kuss, president of SolarVision. “Ohio tax credits are a critical part of allowing greater use of solar power and the construction of the Solar Power Purchase Agreement. To that end, we are talking with state officials about the renewal of additional tax credits. We want to continue to offer this affordable, green solution and help create a cleaner environment for everyone.”
As a result of the passage of SB 221 in 2008, nearly two years ago, the alternative energy industry has been gaining momentum in Ohio. A number of solar projects have either been completed or are in the planning stages, a number of commercial wind projects have been permitted by the Ohio Power Sitting Board, several of which are under construction. In order to fully benefit from many of the provisions in SB 221 projects need to be implemented in order to find out how they work or what may need to be modified in order to best achieve the goals and intent of the legislation. There is an obvious interest in alternative energy across the state that has been made possible through SB 221.
SolarVision has more than 12 projects in various stages of development and negotiation in the state of Ohio, totaling more than 25 megawatts of power to be completed in 2011.
About SolarVision, LLC
A leader and pioneer in advancing solar power and renewable energy throughout Ohio, SolarVision, LLC has developed a cost-effective solution for solar power systems that provides an immediate economic benefit. The latest inspiration from Energy Designs—founded in 1984 and one of the first product development companies focused on renewable energy—SolarVision, LLC brings a depth of experience and passion for sustainable energy alternatives. For more information, visit http://www.solarvisionllc.net.
Note to editor: Corresponding images can be accessed at http://greencrest.wpengine.com/pressroom/SolarVision2