Cuyahoga County, Cleveland Public Power, and IGS Solar will begin construction this month on one of the most innovative solar arrays installed in the state of Ohio, which will provide clean energy for decades to come. Working with Enerlogics and McDonald Hopkins as developers of the project, the team plans for the array to be online summer of 2018 and create over 5,000,000 kWh of electricity per year.
The solar array consists of 35,520 panels and will be constructed on approximately 17 acres of a 75-acre landfill site located in Brooklyn, Ohio (US). Sized at approximately 4.0MW (DC), the array will be large enough to supply approximately 5% of the electricity consumption for 16 county-owned commercial buildings. This is equivalent to powering roughly 500 residential homes.
It will be one of the largest solar arrays built in Ohio, and will offer many economic benefits to Cuyahoga County. The County could save as much as $3 million on utility bills over the next 25 years through the solar agreement. The array will be built on an otherwise unproductive landfill site, and the 20-year land lease will help the City of Brooklyn offset maintenance costs of approximately $400,000 over the course of the next 20 years.
Cuyahoga County will purchase 100% of the power generated through a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Cleveland Public Power (CPP), who will purchase the power from IGS Solar. A 20-year lease was signed for IGS Solar to utilize the land. Cuyahoga County will have the opportunity to purchase the system before the end of the initial 10-year PPA term, if desired.
Cuyahoga County’s strength in regional thought leadership and driving collaboration around complex projects has been critical to the success of the long-term planning of the project.
With strict rules enforced by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for projects built on closed and capped landfills, this project is the first of its kind in the State of Ohio. The Ohio EPA does not allow for extensive, below-surface work on landfills. Thus, to maintain the integrity of the landfill cap, the developers will utilize a ballasted solar racking system in which the panels and supports rest on concrete blocks, rather than driven steel posts.
Nearly all the product and labor involved in the engineering, design, and installation has been/will be performed by highly-skilled Ohio-based residents, which was a main priority for the County. The development and construction of the array has been expected to sustain approximately 100 jobs in the region.
The project will allow businesses to relocate to the area with more options, as the City of Brooklyn will be able to offer competitive electric distribution in their city - meaning a customer will be able to choose between connecting to Cleveland Public Power’s grid, or First Energy’s grid. This offers more choice for businesses looking to build or invest in the area, and more choice is likely to mean lower costs.
IGS Solar, a turn-key commercial and residential solar provider based in Columbus, Ohio, will own, operate, and maintain the array that will help integrate solar energy into the County’s energy portfolio, while helping to better control the long-term energy costs for their county-owned buildings.
According to Patrick Smith, vice president of IGS Solar, this project is a testament to the creativity and commitment that Ohioans have for building a sustainable future.
Sustainability is layered into the County’s long-term, strategic plan, as it believes a sustainable region focused on fighting climate change, is critical to keeping the region thriving.
There are currently 70 other closed and capped landfills that the County views as other potential sites for development, as it develops potential plans to replicate this project model in the future.