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Columbus Announces Details For New Solar Park

solar panals
Carl Attard
File Photo

The City of Columbus announced Tuesday details for a new solar energy park in partnership with local and out-of-state energy companies.

The solar park, which is a field of solar panels, will be developed by the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio and solar equipment provider BQ Energy, with the Columbus Division of Power and AEP energy as collaborators.

The park will be built on a 173-acre property owned by SWACO that was once a landfill between Jackson Pike and I-71 near Grove City.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said the solar park will provide the city with 100% clean energy as well as over 200 jobs. He added through the Clean Energy Columbus initiative, they will use $300,000 to develop clean energy jobs.

"This work is vital to making significant reductions in our carbon footprint by 2030, and becoming totally carbon neutral by 2050," Ginther said.

BQ Energy senior project manager for Columbus Solar Park Mike McNulty said the company exclusively builds on brownfields, landfills, coal mines and toxic waste dumps.

"Anywhere you really can't use the land for much else, you wouldn't want to build restaurants or houses on top of these," McNulty said.

He added that the company will be hiring locals to build and maintain the solar park during and after the project.

"We don't like going out to tons of bidders from all over to bring in people from other states, we like hiring people in their community, and hiring people to maintain a project in the community as well," he said. "When something goes wrong and you'll need more people to fix the problem, it's much simpler to have people who live here to fix the project."

Ginther said for the first five years, all of the power produced by the solar park will go towards Clean Energy Columbus. After that, he said the project will split between the initiative and customers served by the Columbus Division of Power.

When the energy comes to customers, McNulty said they don't need to make any changes to their energy plans.

He added they hope the solar park will be completed by June of next year at the latest.

Michael Lee joined WOSU in 2021, but was previously an intern at the station in 2018. He is a graduate from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism where he obtained his master's degree, and an alumnus of Ohio State University. Michael has previously worked as an intern at the Columbus Dispatch and most recently, the Chicago Sun-Times.