Cincinnati Zoo and Melink Celebrate the Largest Publicly Accessible Urban Solar Array in the Country
Cincinnati, OH (May 9, 2011) – The Greenest Zoo in America is now officially generating power from the Sun! During a press conference earlier today, the Cincinnati Zoo and Melink Corporation announced the opening of a new 1.56 megawatt solar canopy – the largest publicly accessible urban solar array in the country! The 6,400 solar panels, located in the Zoo’s Vine Street Parking Lot, convert sunlight into usable clean energy, producing about 20% of the Zoo’s needed energy, and on sunny cool days send power back to the utility company.
Nearly 150 people, including United States Senator Rob Portman and Assistant Treasury Secretary for Management Dan Tangherlini, celebrated the completion of this monumental project at today’s dedication ceremony at the Cincinnati Zoo.
“I commend the leaders from the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and their local partners for coming together to make this innovative solar canopy possible,” said Portman. “This project is a great example of how economic development can help reduce energy costs at a time when doing so must be a priority. It’s good to see local firms participate in the engineering and construction of what is now the largest, privately owned solar array in Ohio, and the largest urban, publicly accessible array in the United States. Cincinnatians should be proud of this project.”
All the major components of the solar canopy were manufactured either locally, or in other locations within the United States to help promote economic growth. In addition, the project will fund 10 scholarships at Cincinnati State Technical & Community College in their Green Workforce Development Program.
With support from PNC Bank, Uptown Consortium, National Development Council, The Utilities Group and FirstEnergy Solutions, the Cincinnati Zoo partnered with Melink Corporation, the developer, designer, owner and operator of this multi-million dollar project to make the canopy possible. Over the life of the project the Zoo will realize millions of dollars in savings in electric bills.
PNC Bank and PNC Equipment Finance provided transaction structuring assistance for an equity investment with the purchase of New Market Tax Credits through partnerships with the Uptown Consortium and National Development Council, as well as energy financing.
“Innovative projects like this solar canopy showcase the benefits of public and private investment working together to provide a powerful economic boost to communities that need it,” said Tangherlini. “New Market Tax Credits and a Treasury Recovery Act program that funds renewable energy development helped make this project possible, resulting in new jobs, reduced energy costs and less carbon dioxide being released into the air.”
An educational kiosk located in the Cincinnati Zoo’s Vine Street Village will allow Zoo visitors to learn about the performance of the array and the benefits of the solar energy in general.
Additional local partners investing and/or participating in this project include: HGC Construction, ProtekPark Solar, KLH Engineers, B&J Electric, FirstEnergy Solutions, The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the Cincinnati Park Board and US Bank.