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November 30, 2019 | Cincinnati Building Nation’s Largest City-Led Solar Array for Economic Reasons

Danielle Park

Portfolio Manager and President of Venable Park Investment Counsel ( Ms Park is a financial analyst, attorney, finance author and regular guest on North American media. She is also the author of the best-selling myth-busting book "Juggling Dynamite: An insider's wisdom on money management, markets and wealth that lasts," and a popular daily financial blog:

Another day another new record renewable energy project underway for economic reasons: to reduce utility and extreme climate costs while creating sustainable jobs.  See:  Cincinnati to build the nation’s largest city-led solar array.

    • Cincinnati is releasing details about a plan to build what’s being touted as the largest municipal solar array in the United States: a 100 megawatt (MW) solar installation about 40 miles east of the city’s downtown.
    • The solar array will cover about 1,000 acres with more than 310,000 solar panels, transitioning up to 30% of the city’s power from fossil to renewable fuels.  A 35MW installation to power city buildings is expected to be in service by December 2020, and the 65MW residential portion tentatively should be live by December 2021.

The city does not pay the up-front costs of the solar field construction but has entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement (where power is provided at a fixed cost for the duration) with an energy service company (ESCO) that takes responsibility for financing all of the work with a return on capital investment based on its success in generating the energy and efficiencies contracted.  These public-private partnership arrangements are an excellent fit for these projects and often pension funds are happy to provide investment capital in exchange for stable and predictable returns over the contract life. Win-win-win.  Jeremy Rifkin explains the model in detail in his latest book The New Green Deal.  As Cincinnati Mayor Cranley explained:

“I think we all have a responsibility to do what we can do to deal with our carbon footprint, but we also have to be responsible… stewards of the tax dollar. What we have been able to do by getting economies of scale is bring the price down enough that we’re saving money…We’re very proud to be leading what we believe to be the largest city-led solar project in the country… We think [cities] should look into it both for environmental and also for economic reasons.”

There are also compelling security reasons to capture power locally for local consumption and one’s own microgrid management.  See China can shut off the Philippines’ power grid at any time, leaked report warns.

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November 30th, 2019

Posted In: Juggling Dynamite


  • Rudy Kraus says:

    It is too bad that these solar panels won’t provide any useful energy. They will only serve to disrupt their energy supply for a few hours per day in the summer when the weather is good.

  • Rudy Kraus says:

    It is really wonderful that the city Councillors can commit the residents to much higher energy costs and unreliable supply in the future at no cost to them.
    All this so that they can signal their virtue.

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