Village of Minster, Ohio
K Kaufmann is the communications manager at the Smart Electric Power Alliance. The views expressed here are her own, and do not represent those of SEPA.
The front lines of the energy transition in the U.S. are generally thought to be located in states such as California, Hawaii and New York. That’s where policy makers, representatives from utilities, and representatives from the solar industry are engaged in debates over rate reform.
But if you want a more subversive view of the way forward, the place to go is Minster, Ohio. With a population of twenty-eight hundred and fifty, it’s also home to the largest Dannon yogurt factory in the nation.
Earlier this year village officials cut the ribbon on a privately financed solar-plus-storage installation. This installation is now providing Minster’s municipal utility and project partners with four healthy revenue streams. It’s attracting state and national attention.
According to village administrator Don Harrod, the project has improved power quality for Dannon and other companies in the town’s strong industrial sector. The storage unit has three megawatt-hours of backup power, and it’s filling the gaps on the voltage drops the village typically contends with in the summer. It combines a 4.2-megawatt solar installation with a separate 7-megawatt storage system.
It has saved the town money on distribution system upgrades. It’s also cut summer peak demand and demand charges for the power it buys from American Municipal Power.