Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Presses Ahead on Microgrids

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Cuyahoga County continues to move ahead with plans to create an electric utility to support microgrid development in northeast Ohio.

Cuyahoga County

Howard M. Metzenbaum United States Courthouse reflecting in the pool on Public Square of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. By Nina Alizada/Shutterstock.com

The Cuyahoga County Council is set to review the legal issues surrounding plans to develop microgrids at a July 20 meeting, according to Mike Foley, director of the county’s sustainability department.

Earlier this month, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost issued an opinion saying the county would need to get permission from towns and cities where any microgrids would be located.

The attorney general’s opinion isn’t a barrier to the county’s plans, according to Foley.

“We will make separate agreements with the cities to get their consent,” Foley said July 15. “We’re on solid legal ground.”

Several cities are interested in having microgrids within their borders, according to Foley. The county views microgrids as an economic development tool.

Once the legal issues are squared away, Foley expects the county council next month will move on legislation to create a utility within the county’s Department of Public Works, which would issue a request for proposals (RFP) from developers and investors to set up and run the microgrids. A final vote is likely in early September, he said.

The county will likely issue a request for quotes to find a firm to draft the microgrid RFPs, according to Foley.

The plan to set up multiple microgrids in the county grew out of an effort to establish a $100 million microgrid in Cleveland. The initiative, however, stalled.

Cuyahoga County, where about 1.2 million people live, is considering microgrids for at least three areas. They include:

  • Aerozone, an innovation hub that spans several municipalities and includes the Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport and the NASA Glenn Research Center.
  • A 120-acre Sherwin-Williams research and development center in Brecksville.
  • A former American Greetings headquarters and surrounding area in Brooklyn.

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