A PROJECT that could have fueled a boost to the Eastern Ohio economy was dealt a possible fatal blow this week.
The Turning Point Solar plan, set to be based in neighboring Noble County and touted as providing Ohio with the largest solar array east of the Rockies, had the plug pulled from the venture.
The plan's power outage came as a result of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio voting 3-1 against the proposal. The power used from the solar farm was targeted to be used by American Electric Power Co.
The PUCO ruling is an obvious setback to AEP-Ohio, as recent state law changes call for utilities to generate a portion of their electricity through alternative energy sources, including solar. AEP had an agreement to purchase power from the Noble County facility for 20 years, helping to fulfill its state renewable energy rules.
The PUCO decision deals maybe an even larger blow to the area's economy.
The solar facility was expected to create hundreds of new, well-paying jobs while also generating electricity to power 25,000 homes.
The project was first unveiled in 2010 by then-Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland and AEP. Strickland said it would spawn 300 permanent manufacturing jobs and 300 construction jobs.
We see such an undertaking as a win-win scenario.
PUCO's dissenters felt that AEP failed to prove the project is needed. With so many new jobs on the line, we differ with such thinking.
Democrats are criticizing PUCO's decision on the grounds of partisan politics. Dems claim that Republican committee members were heeding the objections of AEP competitor FirstEnergy Corp., financial supporters of the GOP.
We hope a project of such local impact was not a victim of political partisanship. We also hope PUCO members reconsider their decision.