Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013
By William Kincaid
A harvest of sunshine: Solar plant producing electricity on former farmland
  CELINA - A solar electricity plant located on 30 acres of city land off Meyer Road has been producing and delivering power as expected.
"It has been operational since Dec. 22, and it has met all expectations of production," said Mike Dickman, vice president of SolarVision of Westerville, which owns the plant. "It is an intermittent source because when the sun doesn't shine, you don't get it."
Mayor Jeff Hazel said the plant, when operating under ideal conditions, provides a minuscule amount of the city's total power supply - between 2 to 3 percent.
"It's more of a filler because it's renewable," Hazel said. "It's not a base load since it's renewable."
The city was billed $14,465 for 214,305 kilowatt hours of electricity in January and $22,844.86 for 338,442 kilowatt hours of electricity in February.
The city's aggregate monthly electricity bill from American Municipal Power, which manages the city's transactions with multiple energy suppliers, is about $1.1 million, Hazel pointed out.
"It's fully operational, and at its peak production, it would be roughly 5 megawatts of energy," Hazel said.
The plant generates the most power between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day. That window of optimal production will expand to between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the summer, Dickman said.
SolarVision experienced a few weather-related issues when it first took the plant online late last year but it has operated as planned since then, Dickman said.
The company is still waiting for the weather to cooperate to finish ground work.
"I want to make sure that everyone in Celina understands the finished product will be a planted lawn area that needs less work than normal lawns," Dickman said. "We will keep it mowed and looking good."
No one works at the plant. SolarVision is able to monitor electricity production online and observe the facility with cameras. Employees will be on site only for planned maintenance or to correct any problems, he said.
More than 21,000 solar panels transform sunlight to DC power, which is then converted to AC power by an inverter located on the center aisle of the field. After flowing through a series of three transformers, a substation - also built by SolarVision - boosts the power to 69,000 volts before sending it to the city's power grid near Portland Street.
SolarVision secured financing for the $18 million solar power system in August. The deal is a partnership of SolarVision, New Energy Capital Cleantech Infrastructure Fund, Q.CELLS North America, Finance Fund and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
The company anticipates generating $4.575 million in federal energy tax credits and $7.554 million in new market tax credits during the first year, Hazel has said.
SolarVision paid the city $1.3 million to set up the plant. The city used some of the funds to purchase the land off Meyer Road, now named the Celina Renewable Energy Center.
Additional online stories for this date
Print and E-Edition only stories for this date
• Siren to get first testing
• Sentencing law tweaked again
• Auglaize to seek bids for newly-designed kennel
• County extends loan to airport
• Residents voice strong opinions on lettering placed on water tower
• Council members unanimously approve work for electric substation upgrade
• State meets compliance in spillway case
• Couple sentenced in heroin cases
• Employees to work longer to catch up on projects
• Celina merchants seek stores for sidewalk sales
• Quick start propels Green and White past the Flyers
• Bulldogs edge Thunderbirds 3-2
a_d
Thursday Night
21°
Chance Snow Showers
25%
Friday
30°
Slight Chance Snow Showers
26%
Friday Night
18°
Mostly Cloudy
2%
Saturday
29°
Mostly Cloudy
5%
Saturday Night
24°
Snow Likely
63%
Sunday
33°
Snow Likely
74%
Sunday Night
30°
Rain/Snow Likely
78%
Monday
36°
Slight Chance Snow
47%
Monday Night
25°
Mostly Cloudy
10%
Tuesday
31°
Chance Snow
30%
Tuesday Night
16°
Chance Snow
31%
3 Day
Extended
a_d
a_da_da_d