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County Completes Building Solar Installation, Receives SolSmart Designation
CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH - Cuyahoga County held a press event at the Harvard Ave. Maintenance Garage today to celebrate the culmination of solar panel installation across four County-owned buildings, the success of the residential and municipal solar co-ops, and the County’s new SolSmart Gold designation.
The SolSmart Gold designation, the highest designation offered by SolSmart, is in recognition of the County’s commitment to making it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar, as well as the work the County has done to reduce costs and encourage solar energy growth at the local level.
SolSmart is led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. More than 450 municipalities, counties, and regional organizations have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016.
“Today is an exciting day for Cuyahoga County, as we commemorate our longstanding dedication to clean, renewable energy,” said County Executive Armond Budish. “Through a variety of partnerships, we’ve been able to help both residents and the County save money, while also leading change through our commitment to sustainable practices. I’m very proud of the work we’ve done over the last few years, and this SolSmart Gold designation reflects our accomplishments.”
Spanning across five years and stemming from the County’s Climate Change Action Plan, the County made investments in both residential and municipal solar co-ops. This work began with the Brooklyn Solar Array in 2018, a $10 million project which consists of 35,520 solar panels on 17 acres of former landfill. This project allows the County to save up to $3 million on utility bills over 25 years, while also providing electricity options for Brooklyn and its residents.
County residents have enjoyed the benefits of joining residential solar co-ops, through a partnership with Solar United Neighbors. The co-ops educate residents about the benefits of distributed solar energy, help them organize group solar installations, and strengthen Ohio solar policies and its community of solar supporters. Since the partnership began in 2017, over 250 residents have gone solar through the co-op, and saved roughly 20 percent on the total cost of their installations, amounting to over half a Megawatt of rooftop solar in the county alone.
Most recently, the County completed its final installation on the four County-owned buildings to receive solar panels, in partnership with AEP OnSite Partners, a subsidiary of American Electric Power (AEP). The Harvard Avenue Public Works Maintenance Garage turned on power for the panels last week, joining the Medical Examiner’s Office, the Jane Edna Hunter building, and the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter. A total of 4,108 solar panels were installed, saving approximately 10 percent of the total energy consumption across all four buildings annually. Municipalities, schools, and non-profits are also able to get in on the deal. The cities of Lakewood and Cleveland Heights have signed on to the municipal co-op. enabling facilities to save as much as 20 percent compared to current utility costs.
Across the County’s various initiatives and co-ops, 43,840 solar panels have been installed, amounting to over 4.9 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity. Over their lifetime, these systems, in totality, will offset an estimated 305 million pounds of carbon dioxide.
“Climate change requires us to do our part to offset and minimize greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere,” said County Director of Sustainability Mike Foley. “While the region as a whole has a long way to go to get to net zero emissions by 2050, we think our County-led projects are important starting points for getting there. They reduce emissions. They save us money. They put local people to work. And they help set the example of how these projects can get done.”
Brooklyn Solar Farm
Harvard Ave. Maintenance Yard
Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter
Jane Edna Hunter Building
Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office