The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is holding hearings on what could be the largest renewable energy project in the state.
AEP Ohio wants to generate 900MW of renewable energy, starting with a 400MW solar farm in Highland County. The utility is touting this as a major development project that could create thousands of jobs in Appalachia.
The hearing is intended to determine if there’s a “need” for a new generation plant, which state law requires.
In the past that need has been traditionally based off of energy supply in the state. But supporters of the project say an argument based on need should also consider other issues such as fuel diversity, carbon reduction, and Appalachian development.
“So we’re just trying to say what’s the new energy economy, what’s the new industry? This isn’t about instead of, this is about ‘and’ not ‘or,’” said Evan Blumer with the Appalachian Ohio Solar Jobs Network. Opponents argue there is not a clear and present need for new solar power generation and it would likely displace other forms of fuel.