A bright yellow “We’re Hiring!” banner at the top of the Innergex website combined with the rumble of ongoing construction Monday at the Hillcrest Solar Farm just west of Buford told the story — photovoltaic power generation is coming to southern Ohio at a rapid pace.
The 1,350-acre Hillcrest Solar facility is located on Greenbush-East Road between Buford and U.S Route 68, about four miles north of Mount Orab.
Innergex Renewable Energy owns and will operate the facility, and is at present overseeing it’s construction.
Communications Director Karine Vachon said construction began in late January and was now over 50 percent complete.
According to Innergex, the Canada-based corporation acquired Hillcrest from Open Road Renewables, who originally got the ball rolling on the Willowbrook Solar Project, one of a quartet of solar panel farms awaiting construction in southern Highland County.
As part of ongoing construction at the site, Duke Energy said it was tasked with installation of approximately 100 feet of 138-kilovolt single-circuit electrical transmission line at Hillcrest.
Installation of the new transmission line began in August and should be completed by the end of September, the company said.
The 200-megawatt Hillcrest solar panel facility is one of the first utility-scale projects to complete the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) permitting process, and receive the necessary certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need to Construct an Electric Generation Facility.
Southern Highland County’s four remaining solar power farm projects are either awaiting construction or approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board.
Jason Refeld, the executive director of the Utility-Scale Solar Energy Coalition, told The Times-Gazette that both the Hecate Highland and Willowbrook facilities have both been approved and certified to begin construction, and that Hecate’s New Market Solar I and II have been filed and are currently pending before the OPSB.
As previously reported, German-based RWE AG acquired the Willowbrook Solar I project from Open Road Renewables, and will be the prime company that will build, own and operate it.
The 150-megawatt Willowbrook project will be constructed and operated on approximately 2,200 acres of land that parallel U.S. Route 62, extending southward from the Old Y Restaurant to just north of the Hansen Aggregates’ Eagle Stone Quarry in northern Brown County.
The 300-megawatt Hecate Highland I facility will occupy nearly 3,500 acres of land north of and between Mowrystown and Buford.
Hecate’s newest solar farm projects, New Market Solar I and II, are proposed to occupy a little more than 1,000 acres of land in Highland County’s Clay and Whiteoak townships.
The company staged a required public hearing virtually on Aug. 24, and a plot map supplied by Hecate showed that the 582-acre New Market Solar I facility would extend from Gath Road northeast on New Market Road, to just short of Landess Road, before following Hollowtown Road to the southeast and then terminating on Edwards Road, between Gath and Fender roads.
The 222-acre footprint of New Market Solar II will be on the southern side of Edwards Road, extending westward from the Fender Road intersection to Stringtown Road, the map indicated.
While the four Highland County facilities await approval or construction, Innergex said that those interested in applying for a job in the building of the Hillcrest Solar Farm can email their resume to Hillcrest_solar@innergex.com.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.