US-based renewable energy firm Leeward Renewable Energy (LRE), a portfolio company of Omers Infrastructure, has begun construction works for the Big Plain Solar project in Ohio, US.

The 196MW solar project is being built near London and is expected to begin commercial operations by June next year.

The project will make use of First Solar’s ultra-low carbon thin-film photovoltaic solar modules.

It is expected to create nearly 400 jobs in its construction phase, at least 80% of which will be offered primarily to Ohio residents.

SOLV Energy is serving as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor for the Big Plain Solar project.

LRE chief development officer John Wieland said: “The start of construction at Big Plain Solar is an integral step in the advancement of LRE’s solar portfolio and an important milestone for Ohio and the local community.

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“This project not only brings economic development benefits to Madison County, but also environmental benefits.

“Across the LRE portfolio, we are continuously looking for ways to implement innovative land management practices to improve the soil health and aesthetics of our projects, and we look forward to implementing these practices at Big Plain Solar.”

Once operational, clean energy generated by the facility will be supplied to Verizon Communications under a long-term power purchase agreement.

Verizon chief sustainability officer and global supply chain senior vice-president James Gowen said: “At Verizon, we are committed to building a greener US energy grid through proven sustainable and socially responsible strategies and programs.

“The ground-breaking at the Big Plain solar facility is another step on our way to achieving net zero emissions in our operations by 2035.”

Last November, LRE secured financing for the construction of the Panorama Wind Farm in Weld County, Colorado.

The 145MW wind farm will feature 66 wind turbines supplied by Vestas-American Wind Technology.