The Natural Resources Defense Council and Boich Companies, a coal investor, are calling on the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to approve what would be the largest solar farm in Ohio. The renewable energy project would be developed in Highland County, an Appalachian area the coalition says is in need of support.
AEP Ohio is proposing the solar farm which they say would create 150 permanent manufacturing jobs along with thousands of jobs created directly and indirectly by the project.
"I'm here because I'm excited for Appalachian Ohio," says Matt Evans, Boich Companies president. "A part of the state that’s had plant closures, power plan closures, mine closures...I believe that frankly Columbus has ignored this part of the state for the last several years. And I think that this is an opportunity starting now to get some good news to Appalachia."
Although he comes from coal, Evans says it’s important to have a diverse energy portfolio.
"Here I'm standing as a 'coal guy,' obviously I'm for coal," Evans continues. "I'm also for nuclear power, I'm also for gas-fired generation, I'm also for green energy."
The project is a continuation of AEP Ohio's commitment to ramp up renewable energy generation in the state. The utility says it wants to develop 900 megawatts of solar and wind energy. This solar farm proposed in Highland County would make up 400 megawatts of that commitment.