Renewable energy investment reduces harmful emissions and cuts costs
Toledo, OH - Just one year after the launch of power generation from the Anthony Wayne Solar Array at the Toledo Zoo, officials say that the renewable energy project has reduced the zoo's carbon footprint, produced cost savings, and turned a local eyesore into a community asset.
Today, representatives of the Toledo Zoo and GEM Energy gathered in front of the array to announce new data on energy savings, power generation, and benefits experienced by the zoo. The 2-MW solar array provides the Toledo Zoo with enough power to supply more than 30 percent of its electric energy needs, significantly reducing the zoo's carbon emissions. The 28,000-panel solar array is the largest in the nation to supply power to a zoo. The zoo uses an average of 8 million kilowatt hours of electrical energy each year, and the solar array produces nearly 3 million kilowatt hours of that total usage. The array was the product of collaboration with GEM Energy, the Toledo Mayor's office, City Council, and the Lucas County Land Bank, with no dollars expended by the zoo.
"The solar array allows the zoo to demonstrate environmental stewardship while reducing and stabilizing our electrical costs," said Rick Payeff, Director of Facilities and Planning for the Toledo Zoo. "The Power Purchase Agreement developed with GEM Energy has provided us with a way to utilize renewable energy sources without expanding capital or operational dollars up front."
The finalization of the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan is driving conversations about renewable energy and energy efficiency as tools for reducing carbon emissions. The Plan sets the first ever federal limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants that causes climate change, and encourages investments in clean energy and energy efficiency like that seen at the solar array.
"What we see today is the result of a public/private partnership that repurposed a foreclosed and contaminated brownfield into a productive solar array that lowers the zoo's carbon footprint by producing power through clean energy," said Jason Slattery, Director of Solar for GEM Energy of the Rudolph Libbe Group. "The project is now iconic in the area and sets a great example of using renewable energy to reduce operating costs in an environmentally friendly way."
By reducing the amount of fossil-fuel generated power used by the zoo, the solar array has dramatically reduced its carbon footprint and harmful emissions. This is the equivalent of:
o Reducing 1,976 tons of carbon emissions per year
o Taking 377 passenger cars off the road
o Powering 164 average US homes
Keeping electricity affordable and reliable is a key component of the Clean Power Plan. The flexible and achievable new public health and environmental safeguards under the Plan will modernize our energy system and move us away from the dirty energy of the past with clean, renewable energy sources like the solar array, and cut down on the industrial carbon pollution that is fueling climate change. Restoring Ohio's clean energy standards would incentivize similar projects and encourage new development and investment.
"By reducing harmful emissions, the Clean Power Plan will improve public health and help to preserve treasured natural habitats across Ohio," said Greg Ely of the National Wildlife Federation in Ohio. "In addition, it will increase competition in the energy sector and keep our electric rates low. It is a winning proposition on every level."