The following write-up appeared in the December 2014 RE-Powering News quarterly news digest.
A 22-acre brownfield site north of the Toledo Zoo’s main parking lot in South Toledo, Ohio, is now home to a 2.1-MW solar array that provides up to 30% of the zoo’s electricity. This project returns the former elevator factory site to productive use, generating clean energy while reducing blight. The solar was designed, developed and built by GEM Energy of Walbridge, Ohio, which has a long-term contract in place to sell electricity generated at the site exclusively to the zoo. The solar installation supports the zoo’s overall commitment to sustainable practices. Related initiatives include a wind turbine to power the parking lot booths, a solar walkway at the main parking lot entrance, and geothermal wells near the aquarium.
GEM Energy worked with city and county organizations in a strong example of public/private partnership to repurpose the property. “Before the solar development, the brownfield site was considered undevelopable,” said as Jason Slattery, Director of Solar, GEM Energy. “Because it was in receivership, the site was considered a tax and utility liability. GEM Energy worked with the Lucas County Land Bank to reset the negative tax liabilities. GEM Energy then worked with the city and Ohio EPA on the contamination issues, establishing a base line status and allowing the property to be repurposed.”