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Solar developers take a shine to Ohio

Two solar developers are looking to create footprints in Ohio with projects that would significantly increase the state's solar power capacity.

Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar Inc., which has solar panel manufacturing operations in Ohio, is proposing to build its 196-MW Big Plain Solar Farm (Madison) on in 1,500 acres in Madison County. A public meeting is scheduled Oct. 22, according to the Ohio Power Siting Board. (Case No. 19-1823-EL-BGN).

The $441 million project is slated to go online in 2022, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

Lenexa, Kan.-based Savion, owned since earlier this year by Macquarie Green Investment Group, is looking to Ohio as it expands its renewable project portfolio.

Savion is proposing what it calls its Atlanta Farms Solar Project in Pickaway County. The proposed project is for 200 MW located on 1,800 acres, according to Pickaway County Commission meeting minutes.

According to an Oct. 16 article by The Columbus Dispatch, Savion is also proposing a project in Madison County called the Madison Field Solar Project, about 180 MW to 200 MW.

Mark Walter, Savion's director of legislative and regulatory affairs, in June told an Ohio state Senate committee that the company is developing a portfolio of more than 700 MW of solar and 100 MW of storage through nine individual projects in rural counties across the state, representing a $1 billion investment.

"We are currently planning for these projects to reach maturity over the next five years with the first project filing for approval with the Ohio Siting Board this fall," Walter said in his testimony.

Walter was testifying against a controversial bill to bail out the state's nuclear fleet, saying provisions proposed to remove the state's renewable portfolio standard would harm clean energy development. A First Solar representative also testified against the bill. The final version of the bill, signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, lowers and freezes the renewables mandate to 8.5% in 2026.

The Solar Energies Industries Association ranks Ohio, which has 231 MW of installed solar power capacity, 28th in the nation for solar power. The state's power generation mix has less than 1% solar, according to the association, which projects that capacity will grow more than 1,300 MW over the next five years.