Ohio River Island To Become Solar Farm

An island in the Ohio River is set to become the home of what is believed to be the largest solar farm in West Virginia.

The city of Weirton, W.Va., announced April 29 that it is collaborating with The Frontier Group of Companies (FGC), One Sun and Yingli Solar to design, develop and build an expansive solar power farm complex on Brown’s Island, a large island just off the shore of Weirton in the Ohio River, between the West Virginia and Ohio shores.

FGC is developing a roughly 150-acre portion of the 1,300-acre brownfield site it purchased in 2017 from ArcelorMittal, the successor company to Weirton Steel Company. Weirton Steel and its successors operated a coke plant and related enterprises on Brown’s Island from 1923 to 2008, although most of the property has been vacant since the 1980s.

“Frontier has already invested close to $80 million in redeveloping and repurposing this property,” the city said in a statement.

Sen. Ryan Weld joined representatives from Frontier, One Sun and the city for the announcement, after which those attending were invited to tour Frontier’s property both on Brown’s Island and along the river.

“The city looks forward to continuing its partnership with Frontier and welcomes the new investment and opportunities the development will bring to Weirton,” the city said as part of the announcement.

Frontier told local media that construction on the solar farm is planned to begin by the fourth quarter of this year and will produce approximately 40 megawatts of electricity to help power the region.

The solar farm is to be developed on the center of the island by One Sun, of Albuquerque, N.M., with China-based Yingli Solar to manufacture its equipment.

“It’s basically a shovel-ready site because of its previous use,” James Holmes, chief executive officer of One Sun, said. “It’s a great site for solar.”

Plans call for the construction of between 118,000 and 120,000 solar panels on the island.

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