TOLEDO, OHIO – February 3, 2021 – One of the most innovative and collaborative projects in the history of northwest Ohio has reached a milestone – the end of the first chapter in transforming the original Jeep manufacturing site in Toledo, Ohio into a solar array that is producing renewable energy with the goal of supporting neighborhood reinvestment and creating resources to meet community needs. The switch has been flipped, energy is flowing, and revenue is starting to build. And now, to write the second chapter.
A 2.5 megawatt solar array was developed across two sites in Toledo’s Overland Industrial Park – the North Site and South Site. Preparation of the land for installation of racking to hold the solar panels on the North Site started in September 2019, racking was installed, and solar panels started being installed in June 2020. By July 2020, the North Site was completed with solar modules provided by the largest American solar technology manufacturer, First Solar, Inc.; inverters provided by Yaskawa Solectria Solar; and design and construction services provided by GEM Energy, JDRM Engineering, Mannik Smith Group and TTL Associates. The installation of solar panels on the South Site was completed in August 2020.
“Solar power is working for communities and businesses across the United States. Renewable energy projects are in the forefront of cutting-edge solutions that meet multiple economic and environmental concerns, said Jason Slattery, director of solar, GEM Energy. “Projects like Overland, which involve numerous partners with significant ties to the community, demonstrate how success can be achieved through broad-based collaboration.”
On Sunday, December 13, 2020, testing of the grid was done by performing witness testing in coordination with Toledo Edison, the Interconnecting Utility, to illustrate and test the safe operation of the system in coordination with the Utility Grid and the Dana Toledo Driveline facility, and to ensure that Dana is able to receive the energy to run its operations. Essentially, the switch was flipped to begin generating electricity.
First Solar’s responsibly-produced solar module technology has the lowest carbon and water footprints of any solar technology available today, and will generate enough power to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide by more than 1,600 tons, or the equivalent of removing more than 300 cars from the roadways each year. The company originated in the Toledo area and operates the Western Hemisphere’s largest solar manufacturing footprint across two factories in Perrysburg and Lake Township, Ohio.
“We’re thrilled that this important project is powered by technology that was developed in the Toledo area,” said Michael Koralewski, chief manufacturing operations officer, First Solar. “The project serves as an important reminder not just of the role that responsible solar can play in energizing our communities, but of the fact that Ohio is the home of American solar. From R&D to manufacturing — including development, construction, operations and the nation’s premier solar recycling facility — Ohio has it all.”
The Switch Has Been Flipped
And so the next chapter in this story begins. The solar array will generate clean, renewable energy in Toledo’s Overland Industrial Park. The electricity will be purchased by Dana’s Toledo Driveline facility, located in the park. Revenue from the sale of electricity will be invested in the Solar Toledo Neighborhood Foundation of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation, and grants will be awarded to local nonprofit organizations to focus on development of the neighborhoods surrounding Overland Industrial Park.
“Dana has a rich history in Toledo, and our employees and retirees are a core part of the fabric of this community,” said Doug Liedberg, senior vice president, general counsel, and chief compliance and sustainability officer for Dana Incorporated. “This investment allows us to leverage sustainable energy – an important part of our long-term goal of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions globally by more than 50 percent by 2035 – while simultaneously supporting the continued development of a vibrant community around our facility.”
Overland Industrial Park, which is home to Dana’s Toledo Driveline Facility, Detroit Manufacturing Systems, All Phase Electric and now the new solar array, is nearly complete, as two parcels remain for development.
“We’re very proud to be a partner in such an impactful initiative,” said Thomas J. Winston, president and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “Instead of the floodplain portion of the site being used primarily for greenspace, we’ve worked with our local partners to innovatively utilize the land and creatively develop a resource for investment into the surrounding community.”
“Toledo has previously been called ‘The Silicon Valley of Solar Energy’ and Ohio was identified years ago as a leader in the nation for alternative energy development,” Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said. “Toledo is indeed leading the nation as one of the world's top producers and researchers of clean, green, renewable, alternative energy, and I am very proud of this innovative and collaborative project, which has taken the former Jeep site and transformed it into a solar array to produce clean, renewable energy, while also supporting neighborhood reinvestment.”
The solar array is expected to generate more than $300,000 annually. It is expected that funds will be available for distribution to local nonprofit organizations working to better the neighborhoods surrounding the Overland Industrial Park by the end of 2021. Grant amounts will be determined by the amount of energy Dana uses on an annual basis less any operating expenses for the solar array, such as insurance and ongoing maintenance. Once revenue is received from the sale of energy, a grants committee comprised of both community leaders and neighborhood residents will recommend the grant awards, followed by approval of the Board of the Solar Toledo Neighborhood Foundation of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation.
“This is a milestone for this project – and an exciting one,” stated Keith Burwell, president of Greater Toledo Community Foundation. “Thanks are due to all of the partners in this project for making it become a reality. It has been years in the making, but will support our community long into the future.”