Ohio’s biggest solar project has a buyer

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A solar project with a planned capacity that nearly matches what the state of Ohio has installed to date has a buyer and is moving forward. While it has not been made public exactly who the buyer is, developer Innergex Renewable Energy holds firm that it has agreed to a power purchase agreement (PPA) on the 2,100 acre, 200 MWac Hillcrest solar photovoltaic project with “an investment grade rated U.S. corporation.”

If that name sound familiar to you but you can’t remember why, it may be for less-than-ideal reasons. In July, the state of Ohio passed HB 6, which provides a bailout for uneconomic coal and nuclear power plants while also taking some sizable hacks to the state’s already unambitious renewable energy mandate.

HB 6, you may remember, established a “clean-air” fund, which is set to raise $190 million annually. Of that $190 million, $170 million of it will go towards the financial salvation of the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants. The last $20 million is set to subsidize six proposed solar plants in Ohio including, wait for it, Hillcrest solar.

So, if you thought the name was familiar, you probably knew Hillcrest as a lucky recipient in an otherwise backwards bill, as far as renewables are concerned.

Hillcrest is set to be constructed in Brown County, Ohio, just north of Mount Orab. The project will also help Ohio to establish its position as the most complete solar market in the midwest. This gaudy claim comes from the state’s two First Solar module factories and a total of 7,000 solar industry jobs in the state, according to SEIA. And, despite only having 231 MW solar installed t0 date, Wood Mackenzie ranks Ohio as the top state in the Midwest for solar development over the next five years, but why is that?

Oh, that could do it, 1,075 MWac of solar, more than five what is currently online in the state, all set to come on-line by 2021 could have something to do with that projection. For perspective, That would bring the state to roughly 1,300 MWac installed, vaulting it from 28th most installed capacity currently, to around the same level as Minnesota, which currently has the 13th most installed capacity. However, other states will also be growing in the coming years (duh), so it’s likely that 1,300 MW won’t be good for 13thin the country anymore, though it is still quite impressive.

But that’s enough about what the future could hold. What it does hold and what we know is that a project of relatively the same size as the state’s entire capacity thus far has a buyer. This is a major hurdle in the development process and to see it happen bodes well for Hillcrest’s future.