CLEVELAND — Tucked behind a parking lot off a busy street in Cuyahoga County, 35,000 solar panels are busy at work powering over 800 homes and city buildings.
Tristan Rader, who sits on the Lakewood City Council and heads Ohio’s Solar United Neighbors, is giving today’s tour.
“You really get a sense that this is the future and that you are essentially on the right side of history,” Rader said.
For years, he’s fought to make solar the standard and now with President Joe Biden’s new infrastructure plans, the winds are shifting in his favor.
“We have a lot of business opportunities, a lot of job growth opportunities and a lot of folks coming to Ohio. We have relatively cheap land and relatively cheap energy," Rader said. "It's a good environment to grow solar from the ground up.”
The federal plan outlines the goal of a carbon-pollution-free power sector by 2035.
Here in Cuyahoga County, this solar farm is a start but the county has faced a history of hurdles imposed by its own legislature, specifically with the beleaguered House Bill 6.
“HB6 was terrible. In a time, and place where we should be trying to encourage as much clean energy as possible, HB6 did the exact opposite,” said Mike Foley, the director of sustainability for Cuyahoga County.
Rader hopes the new federal plan will be a reprieve.
“Ohio is kinda behind other states. It really leaves the work to places like Cuyahoga County. This array right here is case and point that the work is left to counties and municipalities," he said.
But not everyone is on board with the new plan.
Mike Cope, the president of the Ohio Coal Association, calls the Biden plan a “disaster.”
“He’s (Biden) filling this thing up with green agenda. I think it's the green new deal. He won't admit that's what it is," Cope said. "So we predict there are going to be a whole lot of poison pills in this for the fossil fuel industry, which of course Ohio coal is. “
He also adds that Ohio isn’t particularly known for its sunshine.
“It's a thinly veiled attempt to move the nation from reliable sources of energy to intermittent sources of energy,” Cope said.
While Biden’s plan originally had a $2.2 trillion price tag, Capitol Hill moderates say a compromise will likely end up totally around $800 billion.