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Soybean field will become site of Cincinnati's 100-megawatt solar array

Cincinnati outpaces already ambitious goals for carbon emissions reduction
Posted at 7:04 AM, Nov 21, 2019

CINCINNATI — A 1,000-acre soybean field 40 miles east of the city will soon be a field of 310,000 solar panels providing energy for city-operated facilities and homes, Mayor John Cranley announced Thursday afternoon.

According to a news release from the city, the finished 100-megawatt array will eventually reduce Cincinnati’s annual carbon emissions by 158,000 tons and move it closer to its goal of a neutral carbon footprint by 2035. It will also be the largest municipal solar array in the United States.

“We believe it’s wrong to rip up this planet and to leave it worse off for our kids,” Cranley said at the announcement.

A 35-megawatt portion of the array will become operational in December 2020, at which point it will begin powering some municipal buildings. Officials tentatively expect the second, larger portion — 65 megawatts — to come online at the same time the following year.

Cincinnati won’t pay up front for the array’s construction, which was facilitated by the World Resources Institute and Rocky Mountain Institute’s Renewables Accelerator. Its 20-year purchase power agreement will also keep the cost of electricity the same for two decades.

According to Michael Forester of the city’s Office of Environmental Sustainability, the array will save the city money — about $1.7 million over the course of 20 years, in a best-case scenario.

“It would be irresponsible for a city or business or organization not to deliver a cheaper product, especially when that cheaper product is, in fact good for the environment,” Cranley said.