PUCO decision hurts Isofoton/Napoleon - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

PUCO decision hurts Isofoton/Napoleon

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A Napoleon company is re-thinking how it can remain in operation after a decision from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Isofoton moved to Ohio to work on a mega-million dollar project.  Now, that project may *not* happen.

Ohio wants power companies to generate 13-percent of their power from alternative energy by the year 20-25.   American Electric Power wanted to build a solar field in southeast Ohio and use the power it would generate to supply its customers.

And that Could have been big for Napoleon-based Isofoton.

Solar power is the energy of the new century.   Isofoton is a solar panel maker, and with some encouragement from the state of Ohio, the company built its North American headquarters in Napoleon.

The attraction was a $180-million  project to build the Turning Point solar field in Noble County in southeast Ohio for American Electric Power.   Henry County commissioner, Glenn Miller says, Isofoton did what it was supposed to do:  move to Ohio and create jobs.  But, he added,
"Now they were waiting for a positive decision from the public utilities commission and it's not happening."

PUCO commissioners rejected the project.

Now, 330 new jobs at Isofoton may never see the light of day.

Company chairman Michael Peck told 13abc reporter Bill Hormann during a telephone interview, "We would not have come to Ohio if it were not for the Turning Point solar project."

Isofoton built the panels used in Napoleon's 20-acre solar field.  The frames that support those panels are made by another Henry County company.  PUCO is not saying NO to solar power,  but it is saying NO to the financing of that Turning Point solar power project."

PUCO felt AEP was making customers pay for the solar field.  But PUCO's decision dims Napoleon's hopes of jobs and revenue.   The Executive Director of Napoleon's Chamber of Commerce says, "It's a loss for the entire area, really.  Not just Henry County but all of northwest Ohio and all of the state, as a matter of fact."

Local business leaders will twist arms in Columbus and try to get the switch flipped on the Turning Point project, but there are no guarantees.   Robert McColley, Executive Director of  Community Improvement Corporation of Henry County says,  "We can go and try to talk to as many people as we can.  It's just a matter of whether they're willing to listen."

But when lawmakers learn that $15-million in taxpayer grants and loans to Isofoton may not get repaid, they *may* listen.

Ironically, PUCO staff *recommended* commissioners approve the Turning Point project, but it could be saved.

AEP could come up with a better financing plan or they could win on appeal.

But right now, Isofoton's presence in Napoleon as a solar panel maker is a bit cloudy.

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