Solar build to start in 2024


Innergex officials attended the Wednesday afternoon meeting of the Highland County Board of Commissioners to discuss updates to the Palomino Solar Project.

Janet Grothe, Innergex manager of community and government relations, said Innergex completed the formal hearing process and is waiting on approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board, which she said was anticipated in the first quarter of the year.

She also said that Innergex anticipates construction to start in 2024 and be finished by mid 2025.

Grothe said that Innergex reached a joint stipulation with the Ohio Power Siting Board, the Highland County Board of Commissioners, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation and its interveners, which she said meant they’ve discussed and agreed to all of the conditions and the permit that addressed the community’s concerns.

She said that some of those addressed concerns include the fencing, which will now not be barbed-wire. She said it will be small wildlife permeable. She also said that people concerned about an eagles’ nest should know that the facility won’t be working within 660 feet of it.

Other remediated concerns include Grothe saying that setbacks would be 300 feet from non-participating residents, 150 feet from non-participating residents’ property lines and 100 feet from the center of the road to the perimeter fence.

She said there were 44 stipulations that were all agreed upon, which she also said she was working through and putting into the construction plan to ensure they would all be followed.

Grothe also said Innergex was working with Highland County Engineer Christopher Fauber on the Road Use and Maintenance Agreement, using the Highland County form as the basis.

She also said that in the summer, Innergex plans to meet with non-participating landowners to develop the lighting and landscape plan. Grothe said that during the week, she was meeting with emergency response organizations in the area to get their input for drills and safety and to develop the facility’s emergency response and training plans.

In other news, representatives from the Ohio Laborers’ District Council attended the meeting to discuss some of the area’s solar facilities and their wages. Randy McGuire, marketing director with the organization, said that he wasn’t at the meeting representing the union, but they are with the union, nonetheless.

McGuire said the organization’s “biggest issue” is the solar companies hiring temporary workers to do that work and them not getting a living wage. He said the companies are paying $20, “if that.” He said the workers are going to the solar fields doing dangerous work, being out in the elements, and aren’t getting the same compensation, “definitely” not health care and retirement.

McGuire said that with Ohio Laborers’ District Council, the facility wouldn’t need out-of-state workers because the whole organization is Ohio workers. He said with the number of solar projects coming to the area, there will be a lot of people with a lot of opportunities.

McGuire also said that if the board of commissioners talked to their colleagues in Madison County, they would hear that the two facilities being built with a union have had no issues with water or getting workers and keeping them safe. He said, however, that the one without a union has seen “day after day” issues.

Jimmy Matticks, a representative from the Highland County Community Action Organization (HCCAO), attended the meeting to talk about a possible SciAps XRF machine, for lead-based paint abatement, coming to the county. He said HCCAO recently wrapped the 2022-23 Community Housing Impact and Preservation (CHIP) Program and is starting on next year. He said that for next year, the organization applied for $43,500 for lead abatement, with $23,150 going to the machine, with the remainder of the balance going to specific lead abatement.

Matticks said that currently, HCCAO hires a lead abatement contractor that goes to possible sites, takes paint samples and sends them all to be tested, costing more money. He said that the new machine would change that by letting workers scan wall and get the results.

The commissioners approved the purchase of the machine.

The board also approved the replacement of an HVAC unit at the Hi-Tec Center. Britton said the old unit was having a lot of issues. He also said the replacement would cost $5,670.

In other news, there was one resolution approved by the board:

* Res. No. 23-34 is a request for a budget modification from Transfers Out County Miscellaneous to Advances Out County General in the amount of $3,600. Also requested is an advance from Advances Out to Advances In Lakeside Sub-Division Sewer District in the amount of $3,600.

There were also two contracts approved by the board:

* Contract 21 is between the board and the Highland County Historical Society for a six-month lease for the second floor, west room, at the Scott House, expiring on July 1, 2023.

* Contract 22 is between the board and the Highland County Historical Society for a 15-month lease for the second floor, east room, at the Scott House, expiring on July 1, 2023.

Reach Jacob Clary at 937-402-2570.

No posts to display