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Wadsworth panel approves plan for solar field

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WADSWORTH — Installation of a 6.25-megawatt solar array was conditionally approved Tuesday by the city Planning Commission.

Medina County commissioners gave their stamp of approval in June for placing a 31-acre array across two parcels of land at 1040 and 1048 Seville Road. Officials said the field will provide an across-the-board discount for all Wadsworth residents, but further details on what that discount could look like have not been released.

The city will buy a portion of energy produced by the field from American Municipal Power Inc. while NextEra Energy Resources LLC will design, build, operate and maintain the site.

“Solar is often generating at its peak when you also see the highest rates of electric use,” said Mayor Robin Laubaugh. “We’ll have reduction of transmission costs that accompany other sources that we receive power from.”

Laubaugh said she expects the array to be up and running by the end of the year. Councilman At-large David Williams has said the array is the first of three that eventually will be set up in Wadsworth.

The field’s roughly 21,000 panels will use a ground-mounted tracker system that follows the sun each day to achieve a constant state of maximum output. NextEra has said it plans on taking advantage of tax credits that will lower the cost of the array’s installation and maintenance and that it plans to pass those savings along to American Municipal Power.

Ohio House Bill 6, which is under debate in the state Legislature, would mandate that most Ohio electric customers, including those who receive energy from American Municipal Power, pay monthly fees that would subsidize Lake County’s Perry and Ottawa County’s Davis-Besse nuclear power plants. The exact amount of the monthly fee has not been revealed. Critics of the bill have pointed to provisions that pay for some of the nuclear subsidy’s cost by abolishing mandates from Ohio law that could ultimately drive up the cost of renewable energy.

“We have investment in hydropower and there has been some benefit for us because of incentives for that kind of power,” Laubaugh said. “The bill is a concern for us. We’re very interested in having certain parameters placed in House Bill 6, if it’s in fact passed.”

Contact reporter Jonathan Delozier at (330) 721-4050 or jdelozier@medina-gazette.com.
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