Major Utility Scale Solar Planned For The Midwest

The Midwest has not been traditionally known for its solar power. This idea will soon change as the region looks to play catch up with the Southwest and Northeast.

This post will detail upcoming utility scale solar projects in Ohio and Michigan.

Ohio is the bigger story here with the plans to install 400 Megawatts of solar capacity over the next four years. Along with another 500 Megawatts of wind power, this will take Ohio a long way in making up for the loss of electrical production when they shut down 1.5 Gigawatts in coal power plants. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign had a large role in making this power transition happen.
utility scale solar midwest
The Ohio utility working to make this happen, AEP Ohio, will auction off at least one of the solar farms needed to reach the 400 Megawatts. The total 400 megawatt figure must be delivering electricity by 2021.

The Solar PV projects are recommended by the Sierra Club to be developed in the Appalachian part of Ohio. There’s also a suggestion to hire more military veterans. Time will tell if AEP Ohio honors either request.

In Ohio, the transition of coal economy to clean energy economy has begun.

Michigan will also be able to proudly show off a large utility scale solar project of its own in the coming years.

Utility DTE has a contract with Indiana solar contractor, Inovateus, to install a total of 50 megawatts of solar. This project includes two separate installations – one is 30 megawatts and the other 15. The site is just north of Detroit in Lapeer, Michigan. The specifics of remaining 5 megawatts have yet to be decided on.

Here’s a few notable items to mention about these upcoming solar projects in Michigan. The 30 megawatt solar farm will be the largest utility-owned solar power plant east of the Mississippi. Also, when the 50 total megawatts are completed, this will triple the state’s current solar capacity of 25 megawatts.

While these renewable energy projects will help Michigan achieve its renewable energy mandated goal of 10 percent, much will still need to be done to achieve a more respectable percentage.

The obvious conclusion about this story on Midwest solar power is that it is absolutely viable. This is true for two major reasons;

  1. Solar power is cost effective in the Midwest
  2. Solar is 8 cents/kwh before incentives. The average homeowner in Detroit pays at least 11 cents/kwh. The difference is thousands over the long term.

    On the utility scale side, prices for solar are 5 cents/kwh or lower. This easily beats what utilities currently pay for conventional electricity at 7.62 cents/kwh. That 2.62 cent difference adds up to a lot of money considering the large amount of energy produced.

  3. There is sufficient solar radiation in the Midwest
  4. Detroit has an average annual solar radiation value of 4.26 kilowatt hours per square meter per day. Compared to the Los Angeles, CA value of 5.62, it is only 25 percent less.

These two points may not yet be common knowledge yet. The utilities certainly know these truths, otherwise these solar installations would not be scheduled.

It’s fair to say that those that live in the Midwest can look forward to much more clean energy via wind and solar in the coming years. On the residential side, homeowners will certainly look to take advantage once word gets out about the value of solar power.

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