Once the agreement is finalized and the governmental incentives approved, a former strip-mining site next to a nature conservancy in southeastern Ohio will host what will be one of the largest solar PV power plants in North America. American Electric Power Ohio has signed a memorandum of understanding with New Harvest Ventures and Agile Energy for a 20-year power purchase agreement for the electricity generated by the 49.9MW Turning Point Solar project.
Another agreement will bring solar tracker and rack company Prius Energy and crystalline-silicon module maker Isofoton to the region, where the Spanish companies will build manufacturing facilities, create more than 300 jobs, and provide key components for the new utility-scale array.
The construction and commercial operation of the Turning Point facility will be phased in over three years, according to the parties. Approximately 20MW is expected to be in commercial operation by late 2012, with another 15MW added by the end of 2013 and the remaining 14.9W online by the end of 2014.
Terms of the PPA were not disclosed for competitive reasons, according to the signees.
Turning Point Solar will use a 500-acre-plus tract of reclaimed land mined by the Central Ohio Coal Co. in 1969-1991. The land was infamously strip-mined by the Big Muskie, then the world’s largest dragline, and one of the largest mobile earth-moving machines.
The Wilds nature conservancy was created from 10,000 reclaimed acres of the land stripped by Big Muskie. The solar park will be adjacent to the refuge, located on about 1000 fallow acres of the reclaimed land owned by the conservancy and AEP. Prairie planting tests are being conducted as part of plans to transform the land under the PV panels into an organic carbon sink.
Zane State University and Hocking College have developed programs to train workers in a variety of green jobs programs, including the essential skills needed to build and maintain solar operations such as Turning Point.