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Published: Friday, 7/31/2009

Wilkowski renews solar-power push

Toledo mayoral candidate Keith Wilkowski yesterday continued to emphasize his conviction that the city's future is green as it relates to technology.

The Democrat held a short news conference outside the entrance of the former Jeep Parkway plant to illustrate that unused industrial sites in the city are excellent locations for solar-energy fields.

He made four points:

•Toledo's zoning code should be amended to include a provision for large-scale solar arrays. The code currently mentions free-standing solar facilities, he said, but makes no reference to size.

•City officials should begin discussions with the owners of unused industrial sites about using these properties for large solar projects.

•A coalition of private solar-energy firms and public agencies should be formed to determine how solar electricity could be best used.

•Toledo should join Ohio Advanced Energy, a leading trade association promoting renewable technology industries in Ohio.

Norm Johnston, the chairman of Ohio Advanced Energy, last week told The Blade that the former Jeep plant had 110 paved acres and would make an excellent site for a municipal solar field. Altogether, Toledo has 840 acres of old industrial space that could be put to this use, he said.

Throughout his campaign, Mr. Wilkowski has stressed that Toledo should adapt its industrial base to produce components and equipment for alternative energy technologies using solar and wind power.

"Solar energy projects will strengthen local manufacturing, create green-collar jobs, and generate clean electricity for thousands of Ohio homes and businesses. If we just did a moderate amount of planning, we could advance our interests and put people to work," he said.

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