PIQUA — The second solar field in Piqua was recently completed on 86 acres off of Manier and McKinley avenues and is now producing 12.625 megawatts at its peak performance.
The Manier solar field is another component of the American Municipal Power (AMP) Solar Phase II project, in which the city is a participant. The solar fields in Piqua, which include the 8-acre site off of Staunton Street where the former Staunton School was located, were developed by NextEra Energy Resources (NextEra), which continues to own, operate, and maintain the sites. NextEra sells the energy to AMP, and the city of Piqua Power System purchases a portion of the power generated from the solar fields through the city’s membership in AMP.
“We get a piece of a number of projects across the AMP footprint,” Piqua Power System Director Ed Krieger said.
NextEra will own the properties for the life of AMP’s solar project, which is expected to be 35 years. NextEra is the world’s largest generator of energy from the wind and sun, according to Krieger.
Other municipalities participating in AMP’s Solar Phase II project include Bowling Green, Marshallville, Prospect, Orrville, Versailles, Haskins, and Jackson Center. Outside of Ohio, participants include Coldwater, Mich.; Smyrna, Del.; and Front Royal, Va.
For comparison to the Manier solar field’s peak performance of approximately 12.625 megawatts, the Staunton solar field generates approximately 1.76 megawatts or 1,760 kilowatts of energy at its peak generation. While the Staunton solar field is a fixed-access solar field where the solar panels do not move, the Manier solar field has solar panels that move throughout the day.
“This is a tracking system that follows the sun,” said Krieger, whoh said this allows the Manier solar field to take greater advantage of the sun and produce more energy.
The Manier solar field includes a total of 48,412 solar panels that will collect and convert sunlight to Direct Current (DC) electricity. More than 100 inverters will then transform the solar panel generated DC electricity to Alternating Current (AC) electricity. The site transformers will complete the process by stepping-up the voltage from 600 Volts AC to 13,200 Volts AC so that it can be utilized by Piqua electric customers, according to a fact sheet provided by NextEra.
The close proximity of the two solar fields in Piqua allows the city to save on transmission costs.
“It’s directly connected to our distribution system,” Krieger said.
Krieger said that the solar fields are Piqua’s second cheapest energy source. The city’s cheapest source of energy is from hydroelectric plants through the New York Power Authority.
The Manier and Staunton solar fields, when added to the city’s participation in other wind and hydro generating resources, means that well over 20 percent of Piqua’s energy needs will be provided by renewable sources, according to Krieger.
The power generated from the Manier solar field will be one of Piqua’s most economical power supply resources at less than $0.04/kilowatt-hour. On the hottest days of the summer, when power is typically the most expensive, the Manier and Staunton solar fields will provide approximately 22 percent of Piqua’s peak demand. The Manier and Staunton solar fields also provide benefits similar to Piqua’s combustion turbines.
The Manier solar field is also a source of clean, renewable energy. According to NextEra, the solar field will generate enough electricity to power about 1,850 homes, which will avoid approximately 15,449 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide emissions that would have been produced if the electricity had been generated using fossil fuels. This is the equivalent of taking about 3,280 passenger vehicles off the road.
The Manier solar field was previously explained as being another low-impact energy generation site as it does not make noise and does not create a glare. An engineer of the project previously said that the solar panels are 77-inches-by-35-inches and can withstand 2-inch hailstorms with winds between 60-70 miles per hour.
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