City Of Newark Converting Brownfield Area To Solar Power Farm

Newark, Ohio to build a similar solar power grid on a brownfield site.

Newark, Ohio planning to build a similar solar grid.

I found an interesting link about Newark, Ohio’s plan for a solar energy project at http://clean.ohio.gov/BrownfieldRevitalization/. The planned site is a brownfield site at 1357 East Main Street.

As I’ve pointed out before, Newark, Ohio is the city of grants and nearly ever project is tied to a grant. A position was made for Kimberly Burton, Newark’s Economic & Community Development Director(person who can put the correct language into a grant request), who’s name appears on every grant written. She’s a master of grabbing Federal money for projects that should be local matters. Democrat and Republican businesses alike adore her work. After the money is acquired from the Federal or state level, all that they have to do is compete(at least in a political sense of the word) for who gets the easy money. So before I start to discuss this solar project, you know where I stand on the use of grants. They are simply money that taxpayers have paid to state or federal governments for state and federal matters that are then redistributed to local municipalities. This bypasses the voters authority over use of the money and the results are projects that never would have happened under the scrutiny of the local voters.

The solar project looks great if you ignore the details. It’s a plan to use 24-40 acres that the EPA has deemed unusable for development due to contamination and place a solar power setup there. The power generated will be used for the city’s power needs and any surplus will be sold to a power company for profit. It sounds great until you consider it costs about 30 cents per kilowatt to produce solar power as compared to 4 cents for coal.

The articles I’ve read all have quotes that include nothing but buzz phrases about the benefits of the project. “It’s going to create jobs.”, is a frequent one. It will too! There is an incredible amount of technical expertise required to do the maintenance. How many jobs? Is the project going to create the profits need to pay the workers? Nobody’s answering that or referring to documentation that provides answers.

There will be private investors in the project, many of who are remaining anonymous at this time. It’s refreshing to hear that they’ve found someone that will have a little skin in the game and that it’s not all grant money. Keep a watchful eye on this project. There are many “green” projects that turn out to be nothing more than scams to funnel federal money into the hands of  “investors”. It’s an easy scheme to do.

  1. Create a “green” project that will confiscate money from the taxpayers under the guise of improving the environment.
  2. Get a group of investors that can share in the perceived risk.
  3. Build with select contractors, some of whom may be investors in the scam. The grant money is spent and gone forever at this stage.
  4. Before the project fails, investors in the know have sold their interest to others. Some of these investors have already gained their investment back when the profits from the build were paid. Unwitting investors don’t get out in time and it’s a loss for them.

One may want to consider why private companies are not investing heavily in similar projects. In this volatile market, why aren’t private companies investing in a solar farm that would cut their energy costs? If these systems were truly profitable, private entities would direct funds away from risky markets and invest in a solar energy solution that would immediately start providing returns with very little risk. Companies creating the solar grids would not rely on government grants for anything as there would be a high demand for their product. Keep an eye on this project. The city cannot afford costly mistakes. I can find no discussions of what the city is risking if this turns out to be a failure. Who pays if a hail storm takes the project out? Who pays if the power generated is not enough to cover the costs to create it? Who is going to manage the system and are the competent or just a well networked person? There are many unanswered questions.

Some related Documents –

  • Request For Consultants For Brownfield Redevelopment In Newark, Ohio.
  • BusinessFirst Article about Newark, Ohio’s solar project.
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