A solar array on Spencer Street near the Toledo Zoo will generate about 30 percent of the zoo’s annual electricity needs. [The Blade/Dave Zapotosky]

Solar array project dedicated
Sustainable development a focal point of ceremony

The following article, written by Marissa Medansky, appeared July 23, 2014, in the Toledo Blade. Read below, or view the contents on The Blade’s website.

Local business and government leaders discussed the future of sustainable development at a Tuesday morning dedication ceremony for the new 2.1-megawatt solar array near the Anthony Wayne Trail.

The panels, which sit on an 22-acre lot between the trail and Spencer Street, will provide energy exclusively to the Toledo Zoo.

“A huge part of our mission is about environmental stewardship,” said Jeff Sailer, the zoo’s CEO and executive director. He said the panels will allow the zoo to “walk the talk of [its] mission” by promoting sustainable energy while reducing its reliance on taxpayer dollars.

Before the panels were constructed, the lot was a brownfield site, which means that the land has been damaged by industrial activity. The lot once housed a Haughton Elevator Co. factory, but had been vacant for many years.

Rudolph/​Libbe, one of the largest contractors in northwest Ohio, and a sister company, GEM Energy developed the project for a solar array on the site.

They received the land from the Lucas County Land Bank, which acquired the property in September.

The panels will provide the zoo about 30 percent of its annual electric power supply, said Rudolph/​Libbe Cos. chairman Bill Rudolph. And though the zoo will not learn exact figures until later, Mr. Sailer estimates savings will be in the $200,000 range.

On hand to dedicate the project was Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins, who emphasized the importance of cooperation between local business and government. Public-private partnerships also have been discussed at other recent construction-related events, such as the groundbreaking ceremony for Overland Industrial Park.

“If we are going to remain viable in this international economic environment, we must take these progressive steps,” Mayor Collins said of the partnerships.

Bill Rudolph, Rudolph/Libbe

Bill Rudolph, chairman of the Rudolph/Libbe Companies, speaks during the dedication of a 2.1-megawatt solar array Tuesday. Jeff Sailer, executive director of the Toledo Zoo, left, and Jerry Jones, CEO of the Woodlands Consulting Group, right, listen. [The Blade/Dave Zapotosky]