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Columbus breaks ground on two new solar arrays that could power up to 7,500 homes

A Columbus Department of Public Utilities van is seen at a press conference on May 4, 2023.
George Shillcock
/
WOSU
A Columbus Department of Public Utilities van is parked outside of a city groundbreaking event on May 4, 2023 for a set of new solar arrays.

The arrays on Parsons Avenue and Jackson Pike on the city's far south side could be complete by the end of the year.

Columbus is adding more solar energy on the far south side of the city that could power the equivalent of 7,500 homes, according to city officials.

Two arrays on Parsons Avenue and Jackson Pike will add 45 megawatts of solar power to the city's clean energy supply. Mayor Andrew Ginther and other city officials broke ground Thursday at the Parsons Avenue location.

Ginther said the new arrays will help the city achieve its goals to reduce carbon emissions.

"We need to lead the way, particularly because the state has been MIA, or in some cases, has been working to undermine efforts around solar and renewable energy," Ginther said.

The city is working with developer NextEra Energy Resources. NextEra Senior Director of Development Adam Siegelstein said both projects could be completed by the end of the year.

"I would like to wish the construction team best of luck in the construction of these projects. Wishing you sunny weather just like today," Siegelstein said.

Siegelstein did not specify how many jobs the solar arrays will create, but said many will be added, particularly during the construction phase. He said over 80% of the jobs created are from construction workers that reside in Ohio.

Once complete, the arrays will bolster Columbus' public utilities stock to be about 60% clean energy, and help the city reach a goal of having 200 megawatts by 2030. The city's climate action plan set a goal to reduce total carbon emissions in the city by 45% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 will require much more work and require the city to work with private utilities that operate in the city. AEP produced 68% of its energy from coal and natural gas in 2022, but the company plans to transition to producing 53% of its power from clean energy sources by 2032.

The city’s Division of Power serves nearly 17,000 utility customer accounts, which these arrays will help service. The solar power produced there will also help with the Parsons Avenue water plant near the site, street lights around the city and other city-owned property.

Ginther said it is important for Columbus to continue investing in clean energy and pointed to the impacts of climate change, like extreme weather, becoming the norm.

"We all know that climate change is real. It's happening now and our city is feeling its effects. More extreme temperatures increasing its heat, more rain, more flooding," Ginther said.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.