Cincinnati breaks ground on New Market Solar Project in Highland County

Ground will be broken on Thursday for the country’s largest municipally led solar array, the New Market Solar Project. Construction and operation of New Market Solar will be on approximately 890 acres in Clay and Whiteoak Townships in Highland County. Once complete, New Market Solar will provide emission-free, renewable energy to the City of Cincinnati.

Cincinnati is breaking ground Thursday on what officials are calling the largest municipally led solar array in the country.

The New Market Solar Project will sit on roughly 890 acres of land in Highland County, about 45 miles east of the city.

Yasmin Chilton, a spokeswoman for Mayor John Cranley’s office, said the project will contain more than 310,000 solar panels – equivalent to the size of 750 football fields. 

The site will be operational in December. Overall, it is expected to provide 203,000 megawatt hours of energy each year, enough to power 100% of Cincinnati’s electricity consumption for all city-owned and operated services, including Greater Cincinnati Water Works.

That means Cincinnati’s government owned and operated electrical services will be carbon neutral by the end of 2021. 

The project costs more than $125 million, but it is funded through a power-purchasing agreement, meaning Cincinnati agrees upfront to purchase the electricity generated from the array over the 20-year life of the contract. 

By negotiating a fixed price, the city expects to save $1.8 million over the 20-year contract. 

“You can be a climate change denier,” Mayor Cranley told The Enquirer in 2019 when the project was first announced. “You might not believe in science. But it would be irresponsible for a city to not deliver a cheaper product, especially if that product is better for the environment.”