Piqua Solar Field Provides Low Cost, Low Emissions Energy
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
The City of Piqua is planning for the future and incorporating alternative energy sources into its long-range planning. This low-cost energy is good for the City’s bottom line and for the environment.
On Thursday, June 28, the newest renewable energy resource was added to Piqua’s already diverse power supply portfolio. Shortly after noon, Piqua Power System personnel, and Vaughn Industries, working for NextEra Energy Resources (NextEra) flipped the switch on the 1.75-megawatt Staunton Solar Project. The flow of green, carbon-free electrons from the Staunton Solar Field to Piqua residents and businesses culminated a multi-year planning effort that officially kicked-off when the Piqua City Commission approved participation in the American Municipal Power (AMP) Phase II Solar Project on August 16, 2016.
Piqua Solar Field
In August, the Piqua City Commission approved the purchase of the former Staunton School site to be used as a solar field (Wildow, 2018). The Piqua Board of Educational also approved the sale of the property. At approximately 3.64-acres, it will be combined with another 10 to 12-acre site located behind the Staunton School property. This represents the portion of the solar field that will be located within the city limits, with the total acreage being around 120.
Already, a total of 7,672 solar panels, 320 Watts apiece collect and convert sunlight to Direct Current (DC) electricity. 39 inverters, rated at 1,500 Volts DC, then transform the solar panel generated DC electricity to Alternating Current (AC) electricity. The site transformer completes the process by stepping-up the voltage from 600 Volts to 13,200 Volts so that it can be utilized by Piqua electric customers.
Joint partnership reduces cost to the city
Though the city approved purchasing the site, it is not responsible for the investment or development of the property. That responsibility will fall to NextEra, a company who is investing the cost of development. They will recoup their investment over 25-years as they sell solar energy to American Municipal Power (AMP) members, including the Piqua Power System. This partnership is an ideal way for Piqua and the Piqua Power System to continue diversifying its’ power supply, without burdening tax payers with the cost of further infrastructure development.
NextEra is well established in the space, something that the City took into consideration prior to voting to approve the solar field. “NextEra Energy Resources is a leader in the renewable space. We currently operate and own over 19,000 megawatts in the U.S. and Canada, and about 15,000 megawatts of those are renewable,” Julie Rice, NextEra’s director of development responsible for the mid-Atlantic region, said (Wildow, Second solar field planned for Piqua, 2018).
Generating renewable energy for Piqua and West Central Ohio
The Piqua Power System is participating in the American Municipal Power Solar Phase II project, something this new solar field will become a part of. The field itself could generate 1,500 kilowatts of energy during peak season, though it should generate solar energy year-round. The City of Piqua only requires 60 – 65 megawatts, according to Piqua Power System Director Ed Krieger (Wildow, Second solar field planned for Piqua, 2018). They plan to purchase around 25 percent of that energy from the solar field at rates that should be lower than the cost of wind energy. According to Krieger, this could be the second lowest cost energy source for the city (Wildow, Second solar field planned for Piqua, 2018).
Solar is good for the environment
Financially, this is a wise option for Piqua, as the solar energy will be inexpensive and transmission rates will be minimal, given the fields location within the city. In addition, this energy source is good for the environment. It is a zero-emissions energy source, making it low impact. When considering the long-term needs of the city, it is important to take this into consideration.
The Staunton Solar field generates enough electricity to power about 320 homes. It will avoid approximately 2,134 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide emissions that would have been produced if the electricity had been generated using fossil fuels. This is the equivalent of taking about 457 passenger vehicles off the road.
While there is no way to predict energy markets or environmental conditions with absolute certainty, what is certain is that Piqua is diversifying its’ energy source and will be prepared for whatever the future holds.
Spirit Newsletter, Fall 2018.
Wildow, S. (2018, August 18). Purchase for solar field approved. Retrieved from Piqua Daily Call: https://www.dailycall.com/news/22894/purchase-for-solar-field-approved
Wildow, S. (2018, August 15). Second solar field planned for Piqua. Retrieved from Piqua Daily Call: https://www.dailycall.com/news/44723/second-solar-field-planned-in-piqua