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BLOG: PUCO rejects Ohio solar project, jobs and veterans

Posted on January 14, 2013

In case you haven’t already seen the news, Governor John Kaisch’s Public Utilities Commission made a very disappointing decision for clean energy in the Buckeye state.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s (PUCO) decision to reject AEP-Ohio’s application for its proposed Turning Point solar farm effectively kills the project.  Turning Point, if completed, would have consisted of a 49.9 megawatt solar array to be built in Southeast Ohio in Noble County on 650 acres of reclaimed former coal mining land.  The panels for the project would be built at Isofoton North America’s Napoleon, Ohio plant and when completed would become the largest solar farm east of the Mississippi.  On top of all that, the project would have created 300 construction jobs in economically depressed Southeast Ohio and an additional 330 permanent factory jobs at the Isofotn plant, 60% of those jobs to be reserved for Ohio armed service veterans.

Turning Point: Ohio veterans producing cutting edge technology in Ohio for an Ohio project to be constructed by Ohioans to produce power… for Ohio.

This is exactly the sort of innovation Beyond Coal campaign is fighting for in Ohio consistently ranks as having some the most polluted air in the country, largely thanks to our plethora of outdated dirty coal plants.  A project like Turning Point is symbolic of everything we are working towards; a project that would reduce our dependency on coal, create jobs and even begin to reverse the effects of coal’s horrible environmental legacy by being built on reclaimed former coal land.

Seems like a win-win, right?  Chairman Todd Snitchler and Commissioners Lynn Slaby and Andre Porter disagreed.  Even though PUCO staff experts advocated for the project, these three commissioners, none of whom have any background in public utilities, electrical generation or the environment, the commissioners voted against the project, a move that kills jobs, investment and innovation.  Commissioner Steven Lesser, the one commissioner with a significant background in public utility regulation, disagreed with his colleagues and voted to support the project noting its importance to ensure Ohio has enough solar energy generation capacity.[1]

While the PUCO’s decision was a blow to clean energy in Ohio, it’s not the end of our fight to move the buckeye state beyond coal.  We need your help now more than ever.  You can do that by writing a letter to the editor about the PUCO’s decision and contacting Governor Kasich or your Statehouse Representative or Senator.  You can also join the fight for clean energy in the buckeye state by taking our action survey.

[UPDATE] It seems Chairman Snitchler has taken to twitter to blast green energy and support claims climate disruption is not real, and that “‘green’ religion is taking over from Christian religion.” 

Are you on twitter?  Drop the good Chairman a line; you can find him at @Snitch92

p.s. If facts about climate disruption are more your thing and you support clean energy and innovation, you can follow us on twitter too! @OhioBeyondCoal

Submitted by: Neil Waggoner, Ohio Beyond Coal Organizer