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Published: Tuesday, 3/25/2008

Art museum turns sunny side up; Strickland visits to examine installation of solar panels

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, right, makes a point to Gov. Ted Strickland as solar panels are installed atop the art museum.
Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, right, makes a point to Gov. Ted Strickland as solar panels are installed atop the art museum.
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The Toledo Museum of Art, which already gets solar power the old-fashioned way through windows in its roof, will soon get some of its power in a technologically advanced way - from solar panels on its roof.

Gov. Ted Strickland yesterday stood on the roof of the art museum on Monroe Street to observe the installation of the electricity-generating modules, and to highlight his energy bill that he said would spur alternative and renewable sources of power.

"This is one example of what could be done to make our state more progressive and to make us less dependent on outside supplies for our energy needs," Mr. Strickland said.

The 1,450 solar panels that are taking over a portion of the museum's roof will generate 101 kilowatts of peak power on a sunny day, or about one-fifth of the museum's energy needs, art museum Director Don Bacigalupi said.

Mr. Bacigalupi said the total cost of installing the energy panels would be less than $500,000. The museum received a grant of $147,500 from the Ohio Department of Development for the project, according to Carol Bintz, a development officer for the museum.

The panels were made by First Solar Inc. of Perrysburg and are being installed by Advanced Distributed Generation LLC of Toledo. John Witte of ADG said the electricity produced by the panels at peak use would be enough to power about 25 homes.

The panels lie flat, and absorb sunlight during the middle part of the day when the museum is most in use, he said.

First Solar panels are also in use at the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, and the governor's mansion in Columbus.

Nikki Jaworski, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Development, said the art museum's array is one of the largest in the state. She said the department last June awarded a grant of $438,372 for a 121-kilowatt solar project at the Jeffrey Place condominium project in Columbus.

While the art museum's array may be large by Ohio standards, it is dwarfed by a project in Germany for which First Solar is making panels.

That project, announced in February, 2007, involves 550,000 modules, generating 40 megawatts of power.

Mr. Strickland, a Democrat, said his energy bill would encourage manufacturers of wind turbines, solar panels, and other such products to locate in Ohio. But he said the bill, after passing the Senate unanimously, is languishing in the Republican-controlled House.

"We will have new industries created in Ohio. Jobs will be available to our people. We must do this, and I'm a little frustrated we've had some foot-dragging in Columbus," Mr. Strickland said. He said 25 other states have passed renewable standards.

Speaker of the House Jon Husted (R., Kettering) said the governor's proposal offers only "false hopes."

An alternative bill he helped unveil last month would set specific benchmarks for conversion to alternative and renewal energy, beginning in 2009, he said.

"Without benchmarks there's no pressure for anyone to do any renewable energy until 2025," Mr. Husted said.

Both bills require 25 percent of energy to be from renewable and alternative sources by 2025. Alternative and renewable energy sources can include solar, wind, fuel cells, hydropower, advanced nuclear, and "clean coal."

The governor also made stops in Lima at Greater Ohio Ethanol LLC and in Defiance at American Ag Fuels.

Contact Tom Troy at:

tomtroy@theblade.com

or 419-724-6058.



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