Region would benefit from solar panels on all municipal and school buildings

Reimagining Solar Power for a Greener Future

Reimagining Solar Power for a Greener Future


Moonshot ideas are ambitious, groundbreaking, and seemingly unattainable. With the recent federal investments from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Greater Cincinnati region has a unique opportunity to make significant strides towards achieving these moonshot ideas. This endeavor has the potential to greatly enhance air quality, public health, job creation, carbon neutrality, and save millions of taxpayer dollars for municipal governments.

The Impact of the Inflation Reduction Act

In 2022, President Biden signed the IRA into law, which represents the largest climate investment in history aimed at accelerating climate action. This investment aligns with the goals outlined in the Green Cincinnati Plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. However, reaching this goal necessitates the implementation of moonshot ideas.

Capturing Funding Opportunities

Locally, a regional team led by OKI has partnered with Green Umbrella to develop regional climate plans that can secure funding opportunities under the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) planning phase. Furthermore, the EPA has issued the CPRG implementation phase, a competitive $4.3 billion grant, with a deadline of April 2024. This grant offers states or regions the chance to receive up to $500 million. As the city’s representative on the OKI board, I have volunteered to be part of the Steering Team responsible for coordinating our region’s efforts to secure our fair share of these funds.

Renewable Energy as a Game-Changer

Renewable energy stands out as one of the most impactful areas for investment through the CPRG grant and other IRA grants. The scale of these investments, which amount to over $120 billion in tax credits, opens up the possibility of achieving a significant moonshot idea: installing solar panels on every municipal and school building in the region.

The Transformational Potential of Solar Power

The word “transformational” is often overused, but when it comes to using these investments to implement solar power in every municipal and school building, its impact would be truly transformative for local governments. Consider the following benefits:

  • Save taxpayer money: Cities like San Diego have already demonstrated how renewables can substantially reduce energy costs. By investing $5 million in solar, San Diego saves $240,000 per year. Scaling this up with a $500 million grant could result in annual savings of approximately $24 million for municipal governments.
  • No local match required: Many federal investments come with the challenge of providing a local match, which smaller governments often struggle with due to financial constraints. However, the CPRG grant requires no local match, making these investments more accessible than ever.
  • Reduce carbon footprint and improve air quality: The Greater Cincinnati OH-KY-IN region ranks 18th in Year-Round Particulate Pollution according to the American Lung Association. Implementing solar power on such a large scale would significantly reduce carbon emissions and enhance public health, thereby improving the overall quality of life for residents.
  • Create job opportunities: The installation of solar panels would generate well-paying construction jobs and offer valuable job-training programs, particularly in collaboration with school districts.

Collaboration for Success

Most of the opportunities presented by the Inflation Reduction Act are competitive, meaning that regional collaboration and innovative moonshot ideas are crucial for securing these investments. Regardless of differing opinions on climate change within our region, one undeniable fact remains: improving air quality while saving taxpayer money is a sound decision. Additionally, while some counties may have banned solar farms, placing solar panels on municipal building rooftops represents a smart utilization of government assets.

The Greater Cincinnati region may not be renowned for its regional collaboration, but the regional CPRG team is thinking big and fostering collaboration. By rallying behind this moonshot idea of renewable investments, we can make a generational impact if we unite.

Mark Jeffreys
Cincinnati Councilman Mark Jeffreys serves as vice chair of the Climate, Environment, Infrastructure Committee. He also represents the City of Cincinnati on the OKI board.

Read More of this Story at – 2024-01-15 15:21:54

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