From the GEO Archives: Sunshine at the Governor’s Residence

At the 2003 Ohio State Fair, First Lady Hope Taft brought the idea of a photovoltaic or solar electric system at the Ohio Governor’s Residence to Green Energy Ohio. A “Green Team” of GEO volunteers and members of the Ohio Clean Energy Business Association (OCEBA) immediately began preparing a plan to install a grid-tied solar system with battery back-up power and an educational display using all Ohio-made products and services.

The plan was initially presented to Governor’s Residence Manager and other state officials. In October 2003, during the first statewide Ohio Solar Tour, First Lady Hope Taft hosted an open house at the Governor’s Residence, featuring the future site of the solar installation on the adjacent Carriage House. A scale model and artist’s rendition of the Carriage House solar electric system was unveiled at this event. Partial funding for the project came from an Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) Office of Energy Efficiency grant, with the remainder of the cost accounted for through in-kind contributions from companies and groups affiliated with the project.

The project was completed in 2004 and dedicated on October 15, the day before the 2nd Annual Ohio Solar Tour. The ribbon cutting celebration was attended by First Lady Hope Taft and our All-Ohio Green Team of donors and installers, as shown below.

The 3-kW installation has now been in operation for over 15 years and continues to provide back-up power for the residence security system run by the Highway Patrol. As such, it allows the Patrol to operate essential functions in the case of a power outage, including the gates and the alarm systems. Its longevity is truly a solar power success story!

Last year, as renovations were being made on the Governor’s residence, we assembled some key individuals from the 2004 Green Team and approached the state about assessing the system, making any necessary repairs, and perhaps even updating it. After meetings with the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) and a visit to the property, several options were identified. Earlier this year GEO agreed to produce a plan for DAS to consider and to identify funding sources and new partners interested in the project. AEP Energy stepped up to join the team, as well as other GEO business members. Unfortunately, the pandemic has put a hold on further progress, but we are hopeful that we can re-start this important effort as soon as possible. 

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