Local officials gather to learn what they can do to advance solar in their communities

By Luke Sulfridge on August 20, 2018
Conference attendees tour a solar panel array.

More than 50 local government officials from across central Ohio gathered at Denison University earlier this month to learn about how they help solar expand in their community. The event was entitled “Growing Local Solar” and co-hosted by Dennison University, the Ohio Environmental Council, and Green Energy Ohio.

Dennison University recently installed a 2.3 MW array. It is one of the largest college arrays in the state. Attendees were able to view the project including its use of trackers. The trackers ensure the system’s panels are always at the optimal angle to receive sunlight. Partnerships with non-profits and government agencies are working on making the site a pollinator habitat. This would make the site one of the first combined solar and pollinator projects in the state. When the installer looked at the numbers it looked very near a wash in cost versus traditional grass seeding. “There are also savings by only have to mow around the arrays once a year,” said Jeremy King, Dennison’s Director of Sustainability.

Solar United Neighbors shared work happening with local government partnership community co-ops. Experts were also present to walk through ways of mitigating community concerns over large-scale projects, how utilities and communities view the steps of connecting to the grid. Officials were also educated on upcoming opportunities and developments in residential property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing. PACE financing enables homeowners to make energy improvements, like going solar, payable through their property tax bill. (Click here to read about a project that used PACE financing). Community aggregation programs were another topic for discussion. Community aggregation enables municipalities to join together to choose where their electricity comes from. This can enable them to save money and choose clean energy sources.