Coal out, solar in

One of the worst contributors to air pollution are coal-fired power plants.

In 2015 coal produced 81.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This puts Ohio fourth highest producing CO2 emissions in the country.

Fortunately, the state is stripping away its coal power plants and finding alternative sources for energy. It currently has 18 functioning coal power plants in and surrounding the state. However, there are now more solar power plants producing energy — meaning no less emissions, less pollution and less harm to the environment.

There now 19 solar power plants and more are in the works.

Hecate Energy, an energy company based in Chicago, is requesting to build Ohio’s largest solar power plant. The company would like to place its Highland Solar Facility on about 2,500 acres in the city of Mowrystown.

The 3.2-mile land southwest Ohio used for agricultural purposes, but the company expects to start building the facility in 2020 and finished in 2021.

If successful, Hecate Energy will produce 300 megawatts of energy for neighboring residents. It is still unclear which utility or company would use the power generated from the plant though.

Patti Shorr, Hecate vice president of project development, said in October it plans to file a formal application with the Ohio Power Siting Board, according to AP. From then, the board will have nine month to decide.

If the project is approved, it will be the 20th power plant in Ohio. Around the same time the company plans to build the facility, W. H. Sammis Power Plant in Stratton, Ohio, is scheduled to shut down. The power plant in Stratton uses coal to produce energy and it will be one of the last coal-fired power plants to close from FirstEnergy Solutions.

By closing coal power plants and building solar facilities, what does that do for emissions in Ohio? How are the people affected?

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