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AEP Ohio awards $250,000 to Ohio University’s Voinovich School for solar research

 April 4, 2018

AEP Ohio recently awarded $250,000 in grants to the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University to conduct research on the economic benefits of solar energy deployment and other renewable energy initiatives in southeastern Ohio.

“We have an opportunity to bring the growing clean energy economic benefits to southeastern Ohio,” said Julie Sloat, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer. “The research will help everyone understand how our investments in solar energy will benefit the area and others across the state.”

AEP Ohio and the AEP Foundation have a long-established relationship with Ohio University and the Voinovich School. Since 2004, they have funded the Appalachian Watershed Research Group (AWRG), a multidisciplinary group working together across Ohio University, as well as environmental education programs for schools throughout southeastern Ohio. In fall 2017, they funded a Renewable Energy and STEM Education in Rural Appalachia Ohio program.

“Expanding research and advancing knowledge by delivering unique educational opportunities are central to Ohio University’s academic mission,” said Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis. “We are proud of our long-standing relationship with AEP Ohio and the AEP Foundation, and we look forward to furthering research that could ultimately bring the economic benefits of renewable energy to southeastern Ohio.”

This research project, and the Voinovich School team supporting its efforts, will focus on three principal areas: economic and workforce impacts of currently planned solar installations in Ohio, approaches to additional utility and non-utility solar deployment, and the grid reliability benefits of increasing solar energy penetration.

The research will help AEP Ohio and state policymakers better understand how solar and renewable energy development might impact rural areas and identify emerging trends based on current policies and programs. Researchers will also examine the potential results of future policy and program changes. This is an important effort and direction by AEP Ohio, one of the state’s largest investor-owned electric utilities, as it develops a broader strategy to adapt to emerging clean energy market demands for customers of the future.

“Overall, the increase in tax revenues and job creation associated with increased solar deployment will help create a more stable economy for the region. This research will help to better comprehend the impact and benefits of AEP Ohio’s interest in making solar energy investments through outcome metrics and best practice case studies, as well as determine their role in stimulating economic development in the region,” Dr. Gilbert Michaud, Voinovich School assistant professor of practice and principal investigator on the project, said.