Pounds: Solar energy in NW Ohio: Rising sun or setting sun?Written by Tom Pounds/ Michael S. Miller | | email@example.com
Just as automotive manufacturing was slowing down, causing economic distress locally, a bright light of hope appeared on Toledo’s horizon: solar energy. It seemed Northwest Ohio, ever-enterprising in spirit, had discovered an exciting new opportunity. The University of Toledo led the way with research and many of the area’s proud manufacturing businesses adapted to the emerging solar industry.
Dan Johnson, former University of Toledo president and a solar industry advocate, wrote in these pages that Toledo could be “the solar capital of the nation.”
A who’s who of civic leaders and entrepreneurs backed the movement and it truly looked like Northwest Ohio could lead the world in this emerging technology.
A who’s who of regional leaders worked to educate the community and facilitate the growth of the solar industry, including then-Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, mayoral candidate Keith Wilkowski, then-Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop and councilman Joe McNamara; UT’s Lloyd Jacobs, Frank Calzonetti, Vern Snyder and Johnson; Regional Growth Partnership’s Steve Weathers and Paul Zito; Lucas County Improvement Corporation’s Shawn Ferguson; Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority’s Kevin Moyer; and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur.
The resurgent auto industry is making more positive headlines in our region than solar is. Plagued by a sluggish economy, layoffs, outsourcing, plunging values and scandals, the local solar energy industry finds itself losing luster.
Are these temporary growing pains or has this potential source of jobs and growth already seen its brightest days?
Toledo Free Press Editor in Chief Michael S. Miller and Staff Writer John P. McCartney have collaborated to plan the largest research and journalism project in Toledo Free Press’ nearly eight-year history. The four-part series, “Sun Burn,” will take an in-depth look at solar’s past, present and future in Northwest Ohio. It is an ambitious blend of research, reporting and analysis, seeking to answer the question, “What role does solar energy play in our future?”
It’s a simple question with an undoubtedly complicated answer. The story begins with Harold McMaster’s mid-1980s work and will travel through the University of Toledo, the Third Frontier Project, state and federal money, First Solar, Xunlight, Solar Fields, Willard & Kelsey, Isofoton and nearly 100 sources, from elected officials to workers assembling solar panels.
The story was carefully outlined, but the ultimate answer to the thesis question was not known when the research started: Has the sun set on solar energy in Northwest Ohio, or is this a temporary retrenching?
Follow this compelling series and you will have access to enough information to make a qualified judgment of your own.
Thomas F. Pounds is president and publisher of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael S. Miller is editor in chief of Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com.
Tags: Ben Konop, Carty Finkbeiner, Dan Johnson, First Solar, Frank Calzonetti, Harold McMaster, Isofoton, Joe McNamara, Keith Wilkowski, Kevin Moyer, Lloyd Jacobs, Marcy Kaptur, Michael S. Miller, Paul Zito, Shawn Ferguson, Sherrod Brown, Solar Fields, Steve Weathers, Toledo Free Press, Tom Pounds, University of Toledo, Vern Snyder, Willard & Kelsey, Xunlight