Creative Solar Power Project Brings 440 Green Jobs to Ohio

Mansfield, OHThe North End Community Improvement Collaborative (NECIC-Ohio) of Ohio's Mansfield’s North End is putting together a public-private partnership to bring a solar panels assembly facility to its community and install the solar panels on local government buildings and provide them for free to home owners.

The $6.2 million project would be financed by private investment, bonds and grants. Energy savings, renewable energy credits, tax credits and other diverse revenue streams would cover operating costs. At least a dozen solar panel system components that could be manufactured in Richland County have been identified, as well as a 30,000 SqFt facility.

When the city started talks about turning off street lights to save money, it was time to think of something radical and innovative.

Jean Taddie, community organizer for the collaborative, told commissioners NECIC wanted to start a company that would assemble solar panels from mostly locally produced components. The project would bring 440 living-wage green jobs to county residents.

"We could be more energy independent, and we're visualizing what (would happen) if every home in Richland County that wanted it had solar panels on its roof," Taddie said. "We see it as a long-term impact to drawing interest in our housing."

Commissioner Ed Olson agreed alternative energy and energy-efficient equipment can save money. He said a three-phase, $3 million energy retrofit project at county facilities has saved enough in energy costs that it will be paid for in five years.

The NECIC-Ohio said it will take about 4 1/2 months to get the program operational and a year to reach initial energy saving goals.

However, Taddie warned that the project is still in its formative stage, and Olson cautioned that the county won't be able to participate in the funding.

This is a great example of a community putting together a radical and innovative project that benefits all constituents (residents, governments and the environment). The Green Job Bank encourages every community to seriously consider implementing a similar project.