Small Ohio town turns away from coal to this utility-scale solar array

The City of Shelby’s Solar Site. Photo by United Renewable Energy, LLC

On a partly cloudy day in December of 2019, the mayor of Shelby, Ohio, flipped the switch that would add clean, renewable solar power to the town’s power grid system. Across the United States, more small towns are finding affordable and environmentally safe ways to generate power, and Shelby mayor Steve Schag was eager to lead in that trend. The town of about 9,000 has been moving away from its century-long reliance on coal and into an era of more sustainable options. “We need to be good stewards of the resources around us,” Schag said, “We’re very pleased that today, clean, low-cost, renewable energy is flowing through the lines here in Shelby.”

The project for the City of Shelby was custom designed and installed on a 14-acre site owned by the city. It includes 6,885 solar modules, mounted on a single-axis tracker. AEP OnSite Partners and United Renewable Energy also seeded the project area with pollinator-friendly plants to help restore and replenish the ecosystem by attracting honey bees and other pollinators important to Ohio agriculture.

The City of Shelby envisioned this project as an opportunity to set a new standard for sustainable power, while creating cost savings for its citizens. The city purchases 100% of the energy produced, and the solar array is expected to save Shelby ratepayers several million dollars over the lifetime of the project.

Shelby’s solar initiative was developed in partnership with AEP OnSite Partners, LLC . AEP provided the capital to fund construction of the renewable energy project and collaborated with United Renewable Energy, LLC, a leading solar engineering, procurement, and construction firm, to install and maintain the solar array.

“We are thrilled to deliver this unique energy solution to the City of Shelby and provide affordable, sustainable energy to power the city,” said Joel Jansen, Chief Operating Officer, AEP Onsite Partners. “Our innovative renewable energy solutions enable cities like Shelby to enhance the lives of local residents by providing lower cost, green energy.”

United Renewable Energy’s CEO, William Silva, reflected on the results: “We are honored to be a part of this project for the City of Shelby. With a great partner like AEP, it’s not just about environmental impact, but equally important is the fact that solar gives Ohio towns significant cost savings and predictable energy costs in the future.”

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