Electric Distribution & Transmission System
Since the 1940's, Bowling Green has owned and operated the Electric Distribution and Transmission System in and around the City. As a public power community, decisions are governed by the local Board of Public Utilities and City Council. In the early 2000's the City sought to reduce exposure to electric market volatility and diversify its power supply portfolio. There was also interest in increasing the percentage of renewable energy resources in its power supply portfolio.
American Municipal Power
As a member of American Municipal Power (AMP), Bowling Green is one of 135 municipal members who have partnered together to expand our ability to provide a reliable, sustainable, and cost competitive electric system for the benefit of our customers. This membership has allowed Bowling Green to build renewable energy projects and provide the Efficiency Smart program and the EcoSmart Choice program.
The Bowling Green community has supported these efforts for clean energy and environmental stewardship. For 2021, over 40% of the total energy used by the City was produced by renewable resources. As part of the City’s efforts to control power costs, AMP sells the renewable energy certificates (RECs) associated with Bowling Green’s share of the power produced by eligible renewable generation resources. In 2021 the City/AMP sold RECs representing over 33,354 MWh of generation and received revenues of $1,425,347.
Once the RECs are sold, that energy is not considered to be “renewable” in the City’s portfolio or emissions factor. Basically, whoever purchases the REC, gets to take credit for the environmental benefits.
In 2017, Bowling Green began receiving power from the largest solar field in Ohio. The 165-acre solar generating facility, constructed on City owned property, produces up to 20.0-megawatts (MW) and is connected directly to the Bowling Green Transmission System. The site consists of more than 85,000 solar panels and utilizes a single axis tracking system that allows the solar field to increase production throughout the day. In an average year, this clean energy site produces an equivalent amount of energy to power approximately 3,000 homes, avoids 25,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and accounts for up to 3.5% of Bowling Green's annual power supply. To add increased environmental value to the site, the City has also worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Wood County Park District, and Pheasants Forever to establish a pollinator habitat on the area surrounding the solar field.
Bowling Green is home to Ohio's first utility-scale wind farm. The site consists of four, 391 feet tall turbines. The JV6 wind project at the Wood County Landfill started generating power in 2003 with two turbines and then another two in 2004. The original capacity of the project was 7.2 MW (1.8 MW each), but this was reduced to 5.4 MW when one of the units was retired in 2021 due to the expense of the repairs. Overall, the project has been a tremendous success for the City and the other nine owners. The wind turbines have been a landmark on our western horizon for two decades.
When constructed, it was expected the wind turbines would have a 20-year life span. It has proven that we are nearing that mark as the operational data shows the decreased output and reduced availability (currently about 55%). The installed model V80 units have been made obsolete by Vestas causing difficulty finding parts and delaying repairs. While Vestas has agreed to provide another maintenance contract, they have indicated this will be the last, ending in 2025.
Without a maintenance contract, it will not be possible to keep the units operational. Therefore, the project owners agreed to retire the project in 2025. This was certainly a difficult decision! The JV6 wind project supplied about 1% of the City’s annual energy purchases. The City will evaluate options for how to replace the JV6 wind in the City’s renewable power supply portfolio.
Hydropower is fueled by flowing water and does not require fossil fuels, resulting in zero carbon emissions, lower fuel costs, and less pollution. Hydropower also has a higher generating capacity factor than wind or solar which means it can typically generate power during more hours of the day, addressing Bowling Green's intermediate or base load energy needs.
Bowling Green has invested in six run-of-the-river hydroelectric facilities located on the Ohio River. The earliest facility began production in 1999 and five more came online between 2016 and 2017. In a typical year, Bowling Green can expect to receive up to 35% of its energy from a hydroelectric facility.
EcoSmart Choice Program
EcoSmart Choice is a voluntary Green Pricing program offered through American Municipal Power and Bowling Green Municipal Utilities which allows customers to support renewable energy development. The program is available to all Bowling Green customers.
The program will purchase and retire Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) from renewable energy resources, such as hydro, wind, or landfill gas. One REC is equal to one megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity generated from a renewable energy resource. For each REC that is purchased, one MWh of non-renewable electric generation is offset.
Our customers can depend on us to keep the lights on. Bowling Green has received the Reliable Public Power Provider Award and the Certificate of Excellence in Reliability from the American Public Power Association.
Bowling Green has 109.9 MW of electric generation connected to our electric system.