October 6th, 2010
01:30 PM ET

Huge solar plant to bring green jobs to Ohio

A huge solar power plant will be built on a former coal strip mine in Ohio, creating 300 permanent "green" manufacturing jobs and 300 construction jobs, Gov. Ted Strickland announced Tuesday.

New Harvest Ventures and Agile Energy will develop the 49.9-megawatt project, and American Electric Power has agreed to negotiate a deal to buy the power the plant produces for the next 20 years, Strickland's office said. That's enough energy to power 25,000 homes, AEP spokeswoman Terri Flora said.

Two Spanish companies, Prius Energy S.L. and Isofoton, have committed to build factories in Ohio to help create the 239,400-panel solar array, to be called Turning Point.

If operating today, Turning Point would be the largest photovoltaic solar array in the United States, according to the governor's office. The $250 million facility will reach full capacity in 2014, according to AEP Ohio, which serves 1.5 million customers.

"Solar energy has the potential to bring a host of benefits to southeastern Ohio, including hundreds of new manufacturing jobs and clean energy for hundreds of thousands of rural Ohioans," said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

Nearby Zane State University and Hocking College have programs to train workers in green jobs, including the skills to build and maintain solar operations, Strickland said.

"Today, the future has recognized Ohio," the governor said in making the announcement. "One of the largest solar farms in the nation is going to be built here in Ohio, with solar panels and solar trackers made in Ohio, built by Ohioans with the know-how taught in Ohio colleges."

The planned array will be built on a former mine adjacent to The Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation area that is home to native and exotic animals, including some on the endangered species list.

One of the partners in New Harvest Ventures is David Wilhelm, a venture capitalist from Ohio's Appalachian region and a heavyweight in Democratic Party politics.

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Filed under: Energy • Jobs • Ohio • U.S.
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. garyschnid

    I wonder what 300 people will do working at a place that has solar panels. I think that job estimate for permanent jobs is excessive. Maybe a couple dozen to wash the panels and maintain the electrical equipment is more realistic. I work at a nuke plant and we have ~700 people and produce 1300 MW continueously, not just when the sun shines. Something that isn't addressed is the hazardous waste that is created in producing these solar panels. Another question I have with solar energy is since we are capturing this energy instead of letting it escape back into space, doesn't that contribute to global warming? When will someone address that. I have studied thermodynamics, and if you shift the heat balance, there is an effect.

    October 7, 2010 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
  2. ashley deans

    This is great progress. But remember, the USA is the most creative country in the world and yet the plant is being built by Spanish firms. Wake up America! Clean energy is the future and American firms should be building solar plants all over the country.

    October 7, 2010 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dave

    And this is national news....why? This isn't a drop in the bucket. China is killing our manufacturing industry. Nothing is made in America anymore.

    October 7, 2010 at 7:46 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jerry

    $250,000 for a project that will supply only 49.9 MW of power???? Only with alot of government dollars. The number of employees well thats kind of a strech. But I guess it will give some people a good feeling about themselves. Oh and guess where they are probably going to get the money to build it??? Taxes your utility is paying the government for these projects which actually you are paying for in you power bill. But its green.

    October 7, 2010 at 7:52 am | Report abuse |
  5. cleat

    600 job...HA- like the "millions" of jobs created with theis BS recovery act...it creates a few jobs (for construction workers/roadwork) and then its GONE- back to where we were before.

    October 7, 2010 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. Barbara

    Once we've killed all our young people in wars for oil, maybe we can just go back to kerosene lamps and horses.

    IIDIOTS. We cannot wait another 10 or 20 or 50 years to make a START.

    October 7, 2010 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
  7. Steve Hampf

    You guys are mostly morons. As somebody who works in this field, the Spanish comanies send over a guy or two to be the "eyes" on site. The job is staffed and built by local laborers. The panels are purchased from one of the Ohio companies. The spanish "factories" being set up here are basically just to stage the metal brackets and mounting posts to seat the panels. So its local electricians, local manufacturers and local consumers. However, the way it works a farmer will lease the land, then the foreign company will foot the bill, then sit back and collect a return from the power company. There is not 1 valid argument agains solar power. Its ridiculous that all things are not solar powered. The Sun is the Sun, winter or summer, a little light, even if cloudy, will excite the ions and power your computer so you can post stupid comments.

    October 7, 2010 at 8:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Steve Hampf

      The one thing that is fudged is the jobs...there may be 600 people working on it at one peak point, but once the job is done, it only requires about 10guys to maintain it.

      October 7, 2010 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. TedfromNY

    It would have been nice if the story had told us WHERE in Ohio it will be built.

    October 7, 2010 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. Al

    Why won't American companies build something like this? Oh yes, I forget, they have no loyalty to the United States. They would rather build it in a third world country so they wouldn't have to pay an Amercian worker a living wage.

    I guess that's why the Spanish are builing it instead of an American company...

    October 7, 2010 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  10. RW

    This is my plan. Put pannels on the south side of 1000 (500 ft long) poultry houses in Ak, MS, AL and GA. Sell the electricity to the power companies. Place all the money made from the sale of electricity into an account and use it to pannel new houses. Exponential growth. As the population gets bigger it grows faster. There are 21000 broiler houses in the south. We can also do the dairy, hog and turkey houses. Then we can do the factories and homes. Then we can switch all the cars to electric. When the whole world does this someone will have to go huddle around the oasis. What are we waiting for? The lights to go out?

    October 7, 2010 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Perspective on huge

    This is huge: 5000 MW solar power plant planned for South Africa. Go search!

    November 1, 2010 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
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