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Published: Saturday, 10/16/2004

Gov. Taft's residence taps into green power


Ohio's First Family has gone solar.

First Lady Hope Taft yesterday dedicated a $90,000 solar power system at the governor's residence, telling 40 visitors that it signifies a commitment by her husband, Gov. Bob Taft, to clean energy produced in Ohio.

Mr. Taft was elsewhere when his wife marveled about the home's electricity meter, which occasionally spins backward since the unit went online Sept. 22. A "net-metering" rule requires utilities to buy power generated by homes and businesses. Ohio is one of 29 states with such a law.

Half of the project was funded by a grant for homeowners available through the Ohio Department of Development's energy efficiency office, which receives its money from utilities. The other $45,000 came largely from contributions involving groups and businesses affiliated with the project.

The panels, installed on the slate roof of the mansion's carriage house, were made by First Solar's plant in Perrysburg Township. The inverter was made by Vanner Inc., of Hilliard, Ohio. Four of Ohio's six licensed solar-panel installers mounted the device, including John Witte of Advanced Distributed Generation in Maumee.

"The Tafts are leading by example by putting this array up," said Bill Spratley, Green Energy Ohio executive director. "The biggest barrier we face is that people think solar and wind doesn't work in Ohio."

The nonprofit group expects the project to get high-profile exposure: Some 20,000 people visit the residence each year.

The Web site www.greenenergyohio.org/govres. provides up-to-the-minute accounts of how much solar-generated power has been generated at the Taft home, as well as energy production breakdowns on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and cumulative basis. Also shown is a tally of how many pounds of greenhouse gases the solar panels have kept from being discharged.

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