Bowling Green Solar Field

Solar field ‘sanctuary’ to attract butterflies, bees, birds

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials learned Monday evening how its solar field could be turned into a “solar sanctuary” for butterflies, bees and birds. The board of public utilities heard how the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service hopes to develop a wildlife and pollinator habitat around the 165-acre solar field near the corner of Newton and Carter roads, northeast of Bowling Green. “You are producing good clean energy, and you’re helping wildlife at the same time,” said Marci Lininger, of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service “This is a really cool project for us,” Lininger said. One goal of the wildlife habitat area is to bring back pollinators to the region. “Pollinators are in decline right now,” she said. Adult Monarch butterflies have seen a 50 percent drop in the last 10 years due to disappearing milkweed plants  – which are the only plants used by Monarchs for laying eggs. Some wildflower habitats target specific species. The one at Bowling Green’s solar site will be aimed at attracting several species of bees, birds and butterflies. The plan calls for three seasons of blooming plants. The 12-acre wild habitat area is intended to benefit various pollinators, crops, soil quality, water quality, foraging birds and Monarchs. Ohio is a priority location for Monarchs on their annual trek to Mexico. “We have a huge responsibility here in Ohio,” Lininger said. This region also has many crops that are suffering from inadequate pollination, she said. Crops relying on pollination include tomatoes, blueberries, melons, soybeans, peppers, peaches, cucumbers, squash and apples. Honey bees account for more than $15 billion in agricultural production of fruits, vegetables and nuts, Lininger said. Water and soil quality are also helped by the wildflower habitats because the native plants have deeper root systems and add nitrogen to the soil. The plants also attract insects, which are a food staple for many birds, and provide bird nesting areas in tall grasses. The wildlife habitat will…


BG and county may team up for ‘community solar’ field

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green and Wood County may be teaming up on bright idea for the area. The city has approached the Wood County commissioners about using county land for another solar field. There are currently 70 open acres on the north side of East Gypsy Lane Road, between Interstate 75 and Wood Lane. Fifty acres are owned by the county and 20 by the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. If the solar field becomes a reality, it would likely be a “community solar” project – which means Bowling Green residents and businesses could sign up to be part of the project and get their electricity from the solar field, said Brian O’Connell, director of public utilities for the city. That would make this different from the 165-acre solar field recently constructed on city land at Carter and Newton roads northeast of Bowling Green. Bowling Green gets a portion of the power generated at that solar field – enough to supply nearly 5 percent of the city’s energy needs. By building a “community solar” project, all of the energy created at the proposed site could be used to power Bowling Green, O’Connell said. The city’s proposal was presented to the Wood County commissioners last week. It would require the county to commit the acreage to the project for 30 years. The property is currently rented out as farmland. The commissioners were interested in the idea, said Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar. “They said they were willing to consider it. We don’t see any county building boom” on the East Gypsy Lane property, Kalmar said. The county may be interested in using some of the solar power for its facilities on East Gypsy Lane. “We would certainly be willing to talk to them about it,” Kalmar said. The lease proposal from the city has been sent to the county prosecutor’s office for review. O’Connell stressed that the proposal is still in the discussion stage,…


Solar site puts BG on the map for green energy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is now second only to Oberlin in Ohio for the percentage of renewable power in its energy portfolio. As if on cue, the rain stopped and the sun came out for the dedication of the new Bowling Green solar field on Thursday afternoon. The 165-acre solar field, which started producing power earlier this year, is the largest solar site in Ohio. And with a portion of the solar field’s product coming to Bowling Green, the city can now boast the second highest percentage of renewable energy in the state. “I applaud Bowling Green for its forward thinking,” said Pam Sullivan, executive vice president of American Municipal Power. The solar field, near the corner of Carter and Newton roads northeast of Bowling Green, has 85,000 solar panels that soak up the sun to generate power. The panels rotate with the sun so they can create more energy. On sunny days, the site can peak at 20 megawatts. The portion going to Bowling Green will supply 5 percent of the city’s energy needs. The addition of the solar field means approximately 40 percent of the city’s energy portfolio is now renewable. “Everyone from Bowling Green should be very proud of that statistic,” Sullivan said. The city earned the nickname “Blowing” Green when it had wind turbines installed, Sullivan said. Now it has truly earned the “Green” portion of its name, she added. It’s been a long journey for the city to go so green, said Brian O’Connell, public utilities director for the city. It started in 1999, when the city first purchased hydro power from American Municipal Power. Then in 2003, the wind turbines were installed west of the city near the county landfill. In 2007, more hydro power was purchased. When O’Connell took over as utilities director in 2001, “almost immediately I was asked, ‘When are we going to get more renewable energy?’” “I hope this exceeds the expectations,” O’Connell said…