The Appalachian Ohio Solar Jobs Network
Renewable energy is one of America’s fastest growing industries. The Appalachian Ohio Solar Jobs Network supports the project vision for the largest solar project in the state’s history. The solar developments are slated for Highland County and would create approximately 150 sustainable manufacturing jobs in addition to the roughly 4,000 jobs created or sustained through the solar project. The economic development resulting from this solar project will ensure that the region has access to competitively priced solar energy and remains at the forefront of America’s energy industry.
Solar Project Proposal
The filing highlights the need for at least 900MW of new renewable energy to be built in Ohio, which includes two solar projects to be located in Highland County.
Hecate, the selected developer of the largest solar project in Ohio (300MW), has committed to provide around 150 permanent manufacturing jobs.
The filing from American Electric Power (AEP) includes customer surveys and cost modeling. AEP ran 1,000 different scenarios to evaluate costs and benefits of the projects – solar energy proved to save money in 100 percent of the scenarios evaluated.
The net benefit to customers over 20 years is estimated to be $218 million.
Vision for Appalachian Job Development
There is a critical need to develop responsible plans for diversifying coal-dependent regions into more sustainable economies. This initiative creates a roadmap for not just bringing solar energy to the region’s homes and businesses, but for also making Appalachian Ohio a renewable energy industrial hub. The region’s rivers, ports, and rail systems, when combined with a ready workforce, make Appalachian Ohio attractive for this development plan. The result will be significant economic development and a multiplying job creation effect throughout Ohio’s Appalachian region.
Turning the Vision Into Reality
To make this vision a reality, diverse political, environmental and economic development interests will need to coordinate to create the ecosystem capable of attracting, supporting and retaining the jobs associated with this new energy economy. This includes both providing vocal support of the project and aiding in the strategic development of job training and transition programs focused on military veterans and displaced utility workers.
Health and Environmental Benefits
Policies that encourage clean energy production and energy efficiency that include solar are critical to Ohio’s energy future. As we move to cleaner and healthier sources of energy, this initiative represents a long-term breakthrough for Ohio’s growing clean energy economy and is an important step towards reinvigorating Ohio’s clean energy future.
A clean energy economy provides real opportunities for long-term economic development and sustainable jobs and industry for Ohio’s Appalachian region. This project provides an opportunity to develop healthy communities and a healthy economy in one of America’s fastest growing industries, clean energy. In addition to representing significant economic development for the region, this plan has also been developed in a fiscally responsible fashion to seek the best cost option for development of the project and preference for using local goods or services sourced from Ohio businesses and helping to contain costs for Ohio’s electricity customers. This initiative responsibly transitions coal-dependent communities to a more sustainable economy, allows for investment in energy efficiency programs for low income customers, and creates a roadmap for not just bringing clean energy online in Ohio but also for making Appalachian Ohio a clean energy industrial hub. This will help offset the loss of mining and manufacturing jobs in Appalachia and provide a welcomed economic stimulus by tapping into the rich resources in the region for training and workforce development and encouraging research and development in the solar industry.