Solar panels provide power to Newark’s wastewater treatment plant

NEWARK – Nearly 25┬ápercent of the power that operates Newark’s wastewater treatment plant annually will now come from solar energy.

Thursday the city unveiled a solar energy field off East Main Street that has been in works for more than five years.

“We look at it as a hedge to any future rate increases that may come to our regular energy bill,” said Roger Loomis, Newark’s utilities superintendent. “We really see it as doing the right thing for the environment, doing the right thing for the community, and then hopefully we save some money.”

The city has a 25-year agreement with American Electric Power OnSite Partners to purchase electricity from a 3,318-solar module field, which is located on the former Newark Processing property.

The panels have been operational for about three weeks.

The city owns the land, located between East Main Street and the Licking River, but provides an easement to AEP OnSite Partners, which will own the facility and sells electricity back to the city.

In 2011, the city received a $2 million Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund grant to clean up the site, demolish remaining structures and prepare the 66-acre site for redevelopment.

The site includes aluminum dross, a byproduct of the aluminum smelting business. The property has been empty since Newark Processing went bankrupt in 1997.

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Reporter Kent Mallett contributed to this report.