Big solar is coming to Ohio


As we’ve noted before, Ohio is not the first state that most people think of when they think solar. At the end of last year the state had only 202 MWdc installed, placing it in the bottom half of installed capacity nationally, and SEIA’s project database did not show any larger than 20 MW.

Despite this humble start, Wood Mackenzie ranks Ohio as the top state in the Midwest for solar development over the next five years, and a look at the status of some of the leading projects explains why.

Last Thursday the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) approved Open Road Renewables’ 150 MWac Willowbrook Solar Farm, planned for 2,200 acres in Highland and Brown Counties. This follows on OPSB’s approval of Open Road’s 200 MWac Hillcrest Solar farm in March. When two more projects by Invenergy are included, OPSB has given its blessing to 625 MW of projects since the beginning of 2018.

But these are not all that are underway. OPSB is currently considering Hecate Energy’s Highland Solar Farm, a monster 300MWac project planned for Highland County near the Kentucky border. Significantly, Highland Solar already holds a power purchase agreement (PPA). Additionally Tradewind Energy has received an interconnection agreement from grid operator PJM Interconnection for three separate phases of its Pickaway County Solar project, which together total 150 MWac.


Many rivers to cross

Added altogether, these six projects total 1,075 MWac of solar, many times what is currently online in the state. However, it is not clear that any of these have begun construction at this time, and many have not secured all the necessary approvals.

Invenergy’s Hardin Solar was the first to receive an OK by the OPSB in February of last year, and according to PJM’s interconnection queue document it is scheduled to come online at the end of this year. However, Invenergy does not appear to have yet received an interconnection agreement from PJM, and this may be holding up the project timeline.

This is certainly true of the Vinton project, which is listed by PJM as scheduled to come online by the end of last year and which also does not appear to have an interconnection agreement yet. Invenergy did not respond to a request by pv magazine to clarify the status of these projects.

There is no mention of the three Pickaway Solar projects among those that OPSB lists as either approved or pending on its site. In fact, the only large solar project which we found that has approvals by both OPSB and PJM Interconnection is Open Road’s Hillcrest Solar Farm.

There is also the matter of power contracts and financing, and the only project where the developer has publicly announced a PPA is Hecate’s Highland Solar, which has its own page on the Hecate site. However, Highland Solar does not appear to have an interconnection agreement or OPSB approval at this time.

While all of these projects are planned to be connected to the grid by the end of 2021, it is not clear which ones will make it. But with this many big projects this close to being finalized, there are good odds that one or several large solar projects will break ground in coming months.

There are a lot more where these came from; the PJM Interconnection queue shows 82 additional solar projects currently proposed for the state by the end of 2022, totaling 9.8 GW.


Update: This article was changed on April 9 at 5:10 PM Eastern Time (U.S.). We previously stated that Open Road’s Willowbrook Solar Farm was not listed on the PJM Interconnection queue list, however Open Road has clarified its location in the queue, and we have updated the article and the embedded graphic to indicate this.  

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