Archive for the 'Ohio' Category

Solar Schools Program at Grange Insurance Audubon Center in Columbus Ohio

Friday, October 18th, 2013

A 1.4 kW solar electricity system is being installed at the Center near downtown Columbus, Ohio during the month of October, 2013. We will do a follow up with pix when the installation is completed but we wanted to preview the project.

The installation will be pole mounted with a top of the rack mounting system and the pole will be set on a concrete pad. The Columbus Ohio Chapter of the IBEW will do the installation, but there are a number of partners in this project.

Grange Insurance Audubon Center

Grange Insurance Audubon Center

  • The City of Columbus is digging the hole.
  • A local solar company, SolarVision LLC, is donating funds to the project.
  • The Brian David Robertson (BDR) Foundation is donating equipment.
  • Canadian Solar donated the solar panels.
  • Solar Cascade paid for the drawings and the design of the pole mounted system and Thomas Van Cleef is handing a number of the site preparation and IT issues.
  • The Foundation for Environmental Education is administering the project.

According to Christie Vargo, the Center Director, “We love this project for two reasons. The first reason is that it will allow us to introduce our visitors to solar energy. The second reason is that the partners in this project are all working in collaboration to help us illustrate the power of a community that works together.”

— by Glen Kizer

Solar Electricity Project in Athens, Ohio

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

On November 18, 2010, there was a solar celebration in Athens, Ohio to recognize the City of Athens, Ohio for the installation of a 224 kW solar electricity system. At the time of the celebration, this was the single largest municipal photovoltaic (PV) installation inside the State of Ohio. As you can see from the pix, the installation was done in the form of a carport so the solar panels take up no ground space and no roof space while creating protection for the cars in the parking lot. All materials were made in the US and all of the labor was done by Ohio citizens. The cost of the project is $1.9 million. The city has entered into a 20 year power purchase agreement with SolarVision, an Ohio company, buying the power generated by the carport solar array, at a reduced cost, with SolarVision owning, operating and maintaining the array.

Solar Array

Solar Array

There is an online meter that logs the data for the solar electricity being generated by the system.

The installation is located at the Athens Community Center just a few miles from Ohio University.

The 224 kW solar electricity installation is important for a number of reasons including:

Electricity is being generated without pollution. Nothing burns or turns. The system sits perfectly still and will probably generate electricity for the next 20 to 30 years without pollution and without taking up any space.

Cities like Athens, Ohio do not have a lot of cash on hand so financing devices like the power purchase agreement allow municipalities to purchase large solar electricity systems without the need for any capital dollars and without any obligation to maintain or repair the PV system over the next 20 years. This is a great model for other cities and there are many other similar such projects planned throughout Ohio in 2011 and beyond. But Athens was the largest and one of the first such installations.

Parts of the country like Southeastern Ohio have an image as being too cloudy for solar electricity. Rather than argue about the validity of such a statement, the City of Athens put in a system that is almost one quarter of a MW and allows the data to be viewed on line 24 hours a day to prove that Athens, Ohio and Southeastern Ohio are actually great locations for these kinds of solar electricity systems.

Greg Kuss

Greg Kuss

At the solar ribbon cutting/solar celebration, there was a large crowd of on lookers. Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl spoke as did City Council Member Elahu Gosney and State Senator Jimmy Stewart. Dovetail Solar and Wind, an Athens, Ohio company, ran through a series of slides showing the entire installation. American Electric Power (AEP) the local electricity provider was thanked for their participation in the project and AEP was represented by Anthony DeBord, also an Athens, Ohio resident. This project will appear in the AEP Learning from Light Initiative for its educational value to the residents of Southeastern Ohio as well as to students throughout the country who will be able to study the installation using the data link listed above.

SolarVision was represented by my friend Greg Kuss. He talked about how lucky they were to find great local partners and to get state and federal assistance.

“We were fortunate to receive grant funding from the Ohio governor’s office (under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s state energy program),” adds Kuss. “Solar energy has moved into the forefront because of improvements in incentives and technology. Plus, new solar projects are creating jobs. SolarVision will continue to do its part to make more solar projects possible for municipalities by removing all upfront costs.”

But I have known Greg a long time and I know this was his vision and that this installation meant more to him than anyone else in the room. He is one of the founders of SolarVision and he worries about the bottom line as any business person does, but you could tell this project was a labor of love. He kept smiling because he was so happy that the dream he had was finally being realized. He has many many larger solar projects in the works, but I could tell that this one was special. He had teamed with Governor Strickland and Mark Shanahan (who also spoke) and the federal government through stimulus money and the City of Athens and so many others, but when Greg was standing up there at the podium and when he turned the symbolic switch to launch the solar electricity flow into the building it was more like he was adding this solar carport into his list of accomplishments. It may not be as important as his family, but I could tell on that particular day it came pretty close.




Solar Vision

Scioto Mile

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

The Scioto River originates in west central Ohio and travels through the center of the state before spilling into the Ohio River at Portsmouth. For centuries, even millennia, the river has provided sustenance, transportation and recreation for the inhabitants of the region. Prehistoric Hopewell Indians lived along its banks as evidenced by ceremonial mounds found along the route. Civil war refugees used the river as an escape route from slavery. Farmers have utilized the fertile river valley banks for profitable crops of corn and melons. Today, the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CCDC), a private nonprofit, is using the river as the focus for a 5 prong redevelopment of the downtown. The CCDC, formed in 2002, is comprised of business and institutional leaders charged with implementing the City of Columbus Downtown Strategic Plan.

Scioto Mile

The plan for the Scioto River is to create a mile long green corridor to attract people to the downtown through a variety of events, thus fostering interest in living and investing in downtown Columbus. One of the core principals has been the marriage of public and private funding of the development. Of particular interest is the participation of American Electric Power. AEP has provided $10 million towards the project. The river front is all about energy . . .energy which is displayed in many different forms- the flowing river, massive new water fountains, the active participation of bikers, hikers, wall climbers and . . .175 solar panels for electrical energy. These solar panels will furnish electricity for a planned cafe and water features.

Scioto Mile

So why would AEP encourage such an investment in alternative energy ? According to Dale Heydlauff, Vice President of Corporate Communications for AEP, it is an outgrowth of AEP’s commitment to giving back to the community. AEP envisioned the development of the Scioto Mile as an opportunity to showcase green technologies, offset operating expenses for some of the major features of the park, and also serve as a catalyst for investment in the area. AEP’s involvement was more far reaching than just the installation of some solar panels. It was a total vision with an eye towards a cleaner, more efficient, greener future. Native plants, bio-retention areas for natural water filtration, and LED lighting will complement the solar energy package. It is an opportunity to educate those who frequent the new park. The area is designed as a destination for families, complete with a playground, pop up water fountains, stages, and a cafe with outdoor dining space. The cafe and water fountains will be powered in part by the solar cells, discreetly placed on the roof of the café and an adjacent public restroom facility. Since the solar cells will not be highly visible in their perch on the roof, a meter will display the amount of electricity being generated.

Vision and leadership are the essential components of this impressive new gathering area designed to entertain and educate the community. The City of Columbus, Ohio and AEP have forged a powerful partnership to lead the community forward towards a greener, healthier environment.

Scioto Mile

Scioto Mile

–Rebecca Milnes

Trail Lit in New Albany

Friday, February 13th, 2009

By Bill Resch

In Columbus, Ohio, New Albany High School students and teachers have created an off grid” solar powered nature preserve trail lighting system using Solar Panels donated by American Electric Power (AEP).

Twelfth grade student Student Samantha Lustig’s Senior Community Service Project included teaching approximately 250 students, in twelve physics classes, about solar energy concepts and applications. The students helped with site preparation, installation, and connection of the solar powered trail lights. In addition to assembling and wiring the lights, sophomore students dug a trench for the underground wiring. The 30 trail light posts are spaced over 360 feet, beginning at the student-assembled 1 kilowatt Solar Panel, and running through the school’s wetland preserve, ending at the Band and sports practice field.

The light posts line the trail and allow students and local residents to walk safely to and from sporting events and through the nature preserve at times when daylight is dim in the early mornings and at dusk when wildlife may be more visible. The concepts of “Energy Transfer” and “Conservation of Energy” through our Solar Energy Project are now a permanent of the school district’s physical science K-12 curriculum.

Solar Shades Athens Middle School, Ohio

Saturday, January 12th, 2008


Athens, Ohio was the site of a perfect storm – a perfect solar storm. Dr. Paul Grippa, principal of Athens Middle School, received a call a few years ago to see if he was interested in getting a solar system installed on his school. “Absolutely!“ “American Electric Power donated the solar panels as part of AEP’s Learning from Light Initiative and the project took off,” according to Glen Kizer, President of the Foundation for Environmental Education.


The 1kw system had panels donated by American Electric Power. This install was funded in part with an Athens Foundation Grant. Third Sun Solar& Wind Ltd – also of Athens, donated the labor. Third Sun now has over 100 system installations under their belt in Ohio. When I asked Geoff Greenfield, president of the company, where they came up with the name, he answered, “Michelle and I had two boys when we started – the company was our third..”


Ben Appleby, Executive Director of Sierra Club’s Appalachian Ohio group had volunteers there to help with the installation. Mr. Appleby, a project manager for Third Sun, spearheaded the project. One observer notes, “The project would never have gotten off the ground without Ben’s interest in giving something back to the local community in order to educate our youth about the impact of our energy choices on the environment, and his ability to work with all of the individuals and organizations that made this possible.”

athens-4.jpg athens-2.jpg array.jpg

And what and impact the project has made! The Ohio Sierra Club website quotes science teacher Dylan Crawford, “Now solar power is more than a picture in our textbooks, its right here on the side of our school making power that we can actually use.”

During the installation, Geoff Greenfield observed, “The Ohio state science curriculum actually has a renewable energy component – so the science teachers were really excited to have this teaching tool on their building!”

Ohio State Science Academic Content Standards for grades 6-8:
C. Describe renewable and nonrenewable sources of energy (e.g., solar, wind, fossil fuels, biomass, hydroelectricity, geothermal and nuclear energy) and the management of these sources.

The school has real-time data monitoring:

Students, staff, and the public can log on to see how much power is being generated. Variables such as temperature, length of day, clouds and air quality can be explored. Greenhouse emissions avoided and historical data can also be viewed.

Dedicated September 25, 2006, Mayor Ric Abel, Commisioners Mark Sullivan and Bill Theisen, Councilwoman Debbie Phillips, school staff, students and parents were there to celebrate.

*Historical pictures courtesy of the City of Athens photo gallery.

Oh me-o my-o, Cleveland, Ohio

Monday, December 10th, 2007

2008 is almost upon us. As we close out the year, we’d like to share reflections and some ideas for surging the sun in the year ahead. Here is a perspective from this year’s American Solar Energy Society conference, held in Cleveland, OH. It’s being held in San Diego this year – May 3-8. In fact the two largest solar conferences in the nation (ASES and SEPA/SEIA) are both being held in San Diego this year…help make 2008 a surging year for the sun! Put these events on your calendar.

Story submitted by Alex Kizer


Driving through downtown Cleveland, Ohio for the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) convention, last July, I couldn’t help but notice the decomposing warehouses, standing vacantly among the boroughs of the gentrified districts of the “Mistake on the Lake.” I was passing by the stage where many steel workers presented their empty plea to future-looking authorities; the ensuing death that inevitably destroyed the antiquated industry of the past shined today in the presence of my brand-new hotel.

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My grandfather, born and raised in Cleveland, was one such loser in this battle with the “Technology Age.” Invisible hands have actually brought impending unemployment to both my grandfathers, but that’s the beauty of capitalism, right? In all truthfulness, that’s correct. Regardless of our forefathers’ exclamations, such as, “You can’t find a shoe made within the continental United States, anywhere!” this is the way things work in our globalized world. I have to ignore it when my grandfather calls and asks, “Where can I get an American-made television? Our Sony is busted and Walmart only has Samsung in stock.” I never have the heart to tell him there’s no escaping international trade.

Having the solar energy convention in Cleveland is exactly what the former proprietors of Cleveland had in mind when they put an axe to their industrial economy. “Someday,” they might have said over cocktails at a local aristocratic dinner, “the sons and daughters of the bone-broke factory men and women will thank us. They will be able to discuss alternative resources as plausible supplements to an economy that needs to go in that direction, anyway. Also, they will be able to buy Japanese TVs at discount prices.” Or they’d say something similar to that tune.

It’s sad to say but they were right. Cleveland—much like I hope for the rest of America—was able to effectively cut their losses when it came to the costly economic dead weight of the steel industry; an industry that was physically dangerous for workers and extremely costly to run when compared to the low-cost of steel imports and the high-cost of American labor. But for solar energy, the evolution I am referring to requires a little more complexity, as the dangerous and costly industries that I’m suggesting (oil and coal) have permeated American and global life even further than the omnipotent steel industry. The oil and coal industries are, without a doubt, economic juggernauts with seemingly infinite resources around the world. Everything runs on, eats up, uses, and digests some form of these two resources. For America, however, a similar opinion was held by U.S. migrants less than a century ago regarding the aforementioned metal (steel). From Cleveland to San Francisco, America embodied ample land, so much land it was thought it would take centuries to lay the necessary tracks. America followed the economic path of least resistance and benefited from it resoundingly.

If Cleveland was opening its once bitter doors to an alternative energy convention, then maybe there’s hope of incorporating solar energy into our national economy on a real level. Because this year’s ASES convention wasn’t in Florida or California, but, instead, in Me-o, Oh my-o, Oh-Cleveland Ohio, the more I thought about it the more I felt satisfied with our country’s current state of events. When can someone actually say they’re participating in an event that proves that the Midwest might someday evolve economically? Well, I can.

The ASES convention exhibits the Midwest’s openness to the technologies “of the future.” Even though I embody the enemy of my grandfathers—Idealists, who at one time were, as my grandfather put it, “trying to move American jobs to Outer Space”—I am beaming to see if the economic evolution of Cleveland is, in fact, a microcosm for the potential evolution of our economy on the national scale. If a large Midwest city can open its doors to a new type of resource; if a people surrounded by their fallen industry can accept their evolving economy as a must; and if non-progressive citizens recognize their current oil and coal consuming trajectory as problematic to America’s power (both home and abroad), then I am optimistic that our economy can evolve and incorporate alternative energy solutions in the same way that Cleveland left steel for something more safe and more effective. Parking my car in the lot, I walked up the underground tarmac to find the Cleveland Convention center and then my businesses’ (Solar Resource Corp.) booth. I was excited to see if others had come to the same conclusion as I had.

Before I stepped into the convention center building, I stopped and looked at a gigantic wind turbine that sits before the convention center on the Lake’s side. Watching the long white blades swipe across the tall blue sky, I couldn’t help but wonder why Cleveland was so frequently referred to as the “Mistake on the Lake.”

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