PIQUA — The city of Piqua, Americal Municipal Power (AMP), and NextEra dedicated the Manier solar field on Thursday morning, coinciding with Public Power Week.
This solar field is an 86-acre site located off of Manier and McKinley avenues and is producing 12.625 megawatts at its peak performance. The field has approximately 50,000 panels that also utilize a single-axis tracking ground-mounted system to follow the direction of the sun. Its construction created approximately 40 jobs. The site will also contribute an estimated $3.4 million in tax benefits over the life of the project.
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.
“The city of Piqua is committed to doing all it can to be a green city,” Mayor Kazy Hinds said on Thursday. Hinds noted that the Manier solar field can power 1,850 homes, adding that it also avoids the use of approximately 16,800 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent of removing 3,500 cars from the road.
Ohio State Senator Stephen Huffman commended the project and presented Hinds with a proclamation honoring the solar field.
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.
“Sunlight is a free fuel,” President and CEO Marc Gerken of AMPsaid. “Solar is an important component of diversifying our members’ portfolios.”
Gerken also commented on the partnership between AMP and NextEra. NextEra, the world’s largest generator of energy from the wind and sun, will own the properties for the life of AMP’s solar project, which is expected to be 35 years. NextEra was also able to take advantage of tax credits and pass those savings onto AMP to lower the cost of constructing the site, Gerken explained.
Executive Director Matt Ulman of NextEra called the solar field a “vision of the future,” as well as practical in terms of increasing a community’s tax base, creating jobs, and reducing cardon emissions.
“This project is something we can really be proud of,” Ulman said.
Piqua Power System Director Ed Krieger talked about the city of Piqua’s history in the power business, creating a competing power system with Dayton during the Great Depression that went on to last for approximatley 60 years before the plant was shut down in the 1990s and began purchasing power from the market. The Piqua Power System has since become a member of AMP and has partial ownership in a number of resources, including a clean coal plant, a natural gas plant, five hyrdo projects, and a wind farm.
Krieger also commented how the city was once known as the Atomic City after the use of the nuclear power plant in the 1960s, whereas now the city of Piqua boasts two solar fields, including the second largest in AMP’s solar project.
“This is directly connected to our distribution system,” Krieger said about the solar field. “Those electrons are flowing into our system.” He said that on the hottest days of the year, the solar field can produce one-fourth of the city’s peak demand for energy.
“The savings are significant,” Krieger said.
In addition to the partnership between AMP and NextEra to complete the project, Krieger also noted the partnerships between the city of Piqua, the Piqua Energy Board, the Piqua Board of Education, and the Miami County Commissioners.
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