CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati community is turning out en masse to support an expanded solar vision coming from city hall, championed by Cincinnati Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls. Over 100 members of the Cincinnati public joined Environment Ohio for the ‘Cincinnati Going Solar’ town hall meeting Tuesday evening at Xavier University’s Cintas Center to hear from Vice Mayor Qualls and a panel of local experts, advocates and solar business professionals about the progress Cincinnati has made and new programs that are in the works to transform Cincinnati into a solar city.
Environment Ohio organized the town hall in partnership with Green Umbrella and Xavier University’s Sustainability Committee to bring attention to the great work that the city is doing for solar power in Cincinnati. “Cincinnati has all the right ingredients to go solar,” said Christian Adams, the Clean Energy Associate for Environment Ohio. “From Findlay Market to the Cincinnati Zoo the Queen City is leading the charge statewide for homegrown solar power and clearly from the public enthusiasm for today’s meeting we can see that Cincinnatians are taking note of their city’s leadership on this issue.”
Vice Mayor Qualls addressed the crowd at the start of the meeting to outline her solar vision for Cincinnati. Qualls called for the formal adoption of a citywide goal to get solar power installed on one in five Cincinnati rooftops by 2028 and highlighted two possible programs to get there– a residential solar rooftop leasing program and property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing for commercial projects. “These are steps we can take now to help to not only save money on our energy bills today, but to build a globally-competitive local green economy and a lasting green legacy for our children,” Qualls said.
Qualls’ address was followed by a panel of city officials, advocates and local solar business professionals who spoke to specifics of the Vice Mayor’s program and talked up the environmental and economic benefits of solar power to Cincinnati.
Julie Jones of Green Umbrella’s Renewable Energy Action Team outlined the residential solar rooftop program which could help set up solar leases for residents, allowing them to install solar on their homes for little to no upfront cost. Green Umbrella has been working closely with the city to determine how these programs will work for Cincinnati. Jones also asked for more public input as the city and Green Umbrella move forward , “As Green Umbrella works with the city to craft these programs your ideas and input are essential for success. What do you like about them, what can we change, and how can we make these programs work for you?”
Matt Kolbinsky of SECO Electric highlighted the job creation that Cincinnati solar power can bring locally. “If Cincinnati adopted a goal to get 10 percent of its energy from solar by 2030 and just my small business met that demand, I’d have to hire 450 electricians tomorrow and keep them hired for the next 17years,” Kolbinsky said. SECO Electric is a Northern Kentucky firm that employs 35 union electricians to perform energy efficiency upgrades and solar power projects throughout Greater Cincinnati.
A lively question and answer session followed the panelists’ presentations with audience members fielding questions about the rooftop programs selection process, costs, and new solar technologies coming to market. Looking forward from the meeting, Environment Ohio is echoing Jones’ statement and encouraging the public to stay engaged. “Building a solar powered Cincinnati is possible, but it will take all of us standing up to support these programs and calling for more,” added Adams. “Vice Mayor Qualls’ solar vision is striking a chord with Cincinnatians and people across the Queen City are waking up to the potential for a homegrown solar powered future right here in southwest Ohio.”