Solar Panels Are the Midwest's New Cash Crop as Green Energy Booms

The greening of red-state America, well underway in the Sun Belt, is now accelerating in the Midwest. Ohio and Indiana — two Republican-led US states long dependent on coal power — are on the verge of solar-farm booms so staggering that their respective buildouts between now and 2027 may vie with Nevada’s and trail only those of California and Texas.

Developers are expected to install 15 gigawatts’ worth of new photovoltaic panels in the two states, enough to power about 12 million households. That’s happening even as Ohio has moved to slow, if not thwart, renewable energy projects.

No Republican members of Congress — a group that includes the majority of members from Indiana and Ohio — voted to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, President Joe Biden’s climate law that ushered in hundreds of billions of dollars in incentives for clean energy.

Red states stand to reap the gains regardless: “When you look at renewable energy, the reddest Republican areas are the ones that are benefiting the most,” said Nick Cohen, chief executive of Doral Renewables, which is building what will be one of the largest US solar projects, a $1.6 billion complex in the Hoosier State.

The low cost of solar power, and the promise of construction and manufacturing jobs, are indeed winning over communities in the Midwest that may not be predisposed to the climate benefits. It helps that Ohio and Indiana feature flat farmland that’s ideal for tracking the arc of the sun. Another impetus is coming from large electricity customers, including tech giants and manufacturers, which are demanding that clean energy help power their data centers and factories.