Cincinnati –The solar panels on top of the College Hill Rec Center are not the first to grace Cincinnati’s rooftops and a new report suggests that there may be many more to come. Standing outside the Rec Center today, Environment Ohio released a new Environment Ohio Research and Policy Center report that outlines a vision for how Cincinnati can become the region’s solar energy hub. The report – Building a Solar Cincinnati: How the Queen City can harness the sun to power its future – provides a roadmap to help put Cincinnati on track to get 10 percent of its energy from the sun.
Environment Ohio was joined by Siobhan Pritchard, Regional Sales Manager at Dovetail Solar & Wind – a Midwest leader in solar and wind power design and installation – and Steve Johns, the Sustainability Coordinator for Cincinnati’s Office of Environmental Quality (OEQ), in releasing the Environment Ohio Research & Policy Center report. The speakers touted solar energy’s environmental and economic benefits to Cincinnati, highlighted the city’s accomplishments in going solar so far, and called on renewed community commitments for overcoming local barriers and making the vision of a solar powered Cincinnati a reality.
“Cincinnati’s combination of public leadership, engaged sustainably-minded citizens, and budding solar business sector strategically place it to become the region’s solar energy hub,” said Christian Adams of Environment Ohio. “Cincinnati is still too reliant on coal for its electricity needs – a major source of local air pollution and greenhouse gases. Solar energy is proven, pollution-free and available everywhere and Southwest Ohio has some of the best solar resources in the country. By making bold goals now Cincinnati can build a homegrown solar economy.”
Ohio still generates 82 percent of its electricity by burning coal – contributing to the state’s poor air quality – but renewable energy is an increasing part of the state’s energy mix. Cincinnati’s solar potential ranks in the top 70 percent in the United States, and far exceeds that of Germany, the world’s solar leader. Local leadership, combined with state and federal incentives, has helped lay the groundwork for a budding solar industry in Cincinnati spurring local jobs and economic revitalization, but the report suggested that Cincinnati’s brightest days are still ahead.
“Solar projects in Cincinnati mean jobs for Cincinnatians,” said Dovetail’s Siobhan Pritchard. “Solar provides professional level jobs for system designers, engineers, sales executives, installers, and project managers. This spurs economic development and recovery in areas such as downtown Cincinnati and Over the Rhine.” Dovetail Solar & Wind has completed over 230 renewable energy projects throughout the state – including the Rec Center installation for the City.
Solar power has also been a good investment for city government. “Every solar power project reduces the amount of energy that we need from the grid and helps make our operations more sustainable for the future. This is part of our vision to make City Government more efficient through smart, innovative initiatives,” said OEQ’s Steve Johns. The Rec Center installation features 672 panels and is expected to generate enough electricity to power 16 average homes each year. Johns identified the importance of city partnerships with solar businesses like Dovetail and advocacy groups for advancing its solar vision. “OEQ and the City of Cincinnati look forward to working with groups like Environment Ohio to ensure that the market for solar energy stays strong,” said Johns.
Adams expressed confidence in the progress of solar and emphasized the important role that local governments can play. “As the City continues to lead by example with municipal installations, it can use its partnerships with the solar sector to build access to new financing and technologies, allowing even more residents to embrace solar energy. This will ensure that the solar revolution stays here – transforming Ohio’s Queen City into a Solar City.”
Environment Ohio is a state-based, citizen-supported, environmental advocacy organization – working for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. For full report and more information, visit www.environmentohiocenter.org