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.