Construction begins on Ohio’s largest solar project

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Ohio’s first and therefore largest utility-scale solar project has begun construction, following a groundbreaking ceremony attended by state legislators.

Developed by Innergex Renewable Energy, the 200 MW Hillcrest Solar facility, once completed, will nearly double the state’s entire installed solar capacity, which currently sits at 248 MW, according to SEIA. The project is located on 1,350 acres of land in Brown County, about 45 miles east of Cincinnati.

Notably, the project is one of six solar installations tied to Ohio’s controversial HB 6, which passed in July and provides a bailout for uneconomic coal and nuclear power plants. Hillcrest and the other five projects are eligible for funding under the bill’s clean-air fund, which is set to raise $190 million annually. Of that $190 million, $170 million will go towards the financial salvation of the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear power plants. The last $20 million is set to subsidize the lucky six proposed solar plants.

Wood Mackenzie ranks Ohio as the top state in the Midwest for solar development over the next five years, driven by 1,075 MWac of solar planned to come on-line by 2021. By 2025, SEIA predicts that the state will add nearly 1,600 MW of capacity, good for 17th in the country over that time. While 17th may seem low for the “the top state in the Midwest” coronation, the state currently ranks 28th in installed capacity.

In December, Innergex Renewable Energy agreed to a power purchase agreement for the electricity generated by Hillcrest with an unnamed buyer.