Cleveland will take the first step to reduce its carbon emissions from power generation—a goal it laid claim to in its 2013 Climate Action Plan (CAP)—with a request for proposals (RFP) for a “solar farm” located at an old municipal waste dump.
The Cleveland Climate Action Plan calls on the city to use 25% renewable energy by 2030 (with an interim goal of 15% by 2020). The city made a recent statement that it would identify which vacant land to repurpose for renewable energy production.
With the “solar farm” RFP, Cleveland is starting with its 100-acre Kolthoff Road landfill site which was closed in the 1980s. The city will hire a firm that has the best deal for supplying, installing and managing solar panels and hooking them up to the grid or directly to a building.
In this case, Cleveland would accept a minimum of 2.5 megawatts of solar power. It wants the power to supply the IX Center, the 2.4 million square foot exhibit hall located just north of the site, or to tie in to the electric grid. The IX Center receives its electricity from FirstEnergy, which means the 2.5 megawatts of solar power could potentially offset that produced by burning coal (the RFP calls on the installer to track its carbon reductions).
With the CAP, the city conducted a carbon footprint analysis, and found that powering buildings accounts for 50% of its 13 million metric tonnes of carbon emissions per year. The CAP found that commercial buildings, like the IX Center, account for 14% of the city’s emissions.
The new RFP calls on the firm to lease or buy the land which has grown forested and has wetlands and connects to Abrams Creek. It is unclear if the land’s environmental features will need to remain intact. If so, it could raise the costs as access and site development will be more limited.
If Cleveland can get it done—meaning, attract a solar developer who has the right combo of sticker price and deliverable energy—the IX solar farm would be the largest in the state, or about two times as large in term of energy production as the current reigning champion, the 1.1 megawatt solar farm at Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority headquarters. Two additional, 1 megawatt solar farms are operating in Cleveland: the 2014 ground-mounted array on Euclid Avenue installed by University Hospital and Case's power company, Medical Co. (pictured), and a 1 megawatt array on the roof of the Wolstein Center by Cleveland State University.
Cleveland plans to meet its carbon reduction goals by ramping up even more “advanced” and renewable energy. Its CAP calls for 17% of the city’s power generation to come from clean sources. With some estimates on Cleveland’s vacant properties reaching 29,000 lots, this solar RFP is an interesting test case. Certainly, the city has the land for more ground-mounted solar which is considerably less expensive than on rooftops. But, the 2014 freeze by Ohio’s General Assembly on requiring utilities like FirstEnergy to produce more renewable energy is expected to dampen progress.