A Fayette County Board of Appeals meeting is being held this week in reference to National Grid Renewable wanting to create a solar farm in Perry Township.
According to National Grid Renewables Director of Marketing and Communications Lindsay Smith, “Fayette Solar is an estimated 47.5 megawatt (MW) solar energy development in Perry Township that is currently anticipated to connect to the electric grid via the existing Greenfield substation in Madison Township (in Highland County).”
Fayette County Zoning Official Greg McCune explained the farm would be located on 435 acres. The acres proposed for the solar farm are currently taxed as agricultural land, according to Fayette County commissioner Jim Garland.
If the company is able to create the solar farm within Fayette County, the commissioners explained the ground-mounted panels can be a maximum of 15 feet off the ground as that is the usual height maximum the company follows.
Solar farms can connect directly into the local power grid. Garland said the power lines would be located underground.
Smith said the estimated timeline for the project is to start construction in 2022 and begin operation by the end of the year.
County commissioners said the traffic in the local area surrounding the farm may lessen from what it is now as there won’t be agricultural traffic.
Several sources agree that solar farms have low pollution and are relatively quiet as there are no moving parts or constant workers in the area. The farms tend to be safe for wildlife.
Outside of the local area, in recent years there have been several new solar farms coming into operation or being planned.
“The project is anticipated to positively impact the local economy by producing significant tax revenue, short and long term jobs, and annual contributions through a charitable fund. Current estimates for tax revenue produced by the project suggest an approximate $8 million boost in revenue to the local area over the first 25 years of project operation,” Smith said in an email. “Additionally, Fayette Solar is estimated to offset approximately 64,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually during operations — the equivalent of taking an estimated 14,000 cars off the road every year (based on EPA greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator).”
“It would be a significant amount of money that would come to the county if they come in,” said commissioner Dan Dean. “The biggest part of it would go to Miami Trace schools because of property tax.”
Commissioner Tony Anderson explained, “From a commissioner’s standpoint, we have to accept and agree that with the tremendous increase in a demand for green energy, that the people that have been in charge of writing up these rules have interests in competing for green energy and conservation of the environment. If those who believe in the idea of green energy believe it is beneficial for the environment, we have to believe that collection of green energy through a solar farm or wind turbine is better for the environment. We don’t make those rules, the legislature passed the rules.”
Anderson further explained that wanting clean energy and having it locally is a sign of economic success.
According to the company website, www.nationalgridrenewables.com, “Under Ohio Law, electric generating facilities capable of producing 50 MW or more must apply for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need from the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB). This process provides for a single unified process by which facilities can obtain a certificate to operate. Generally speaking, the OPSB process includes a public informational meeting, submittal of certificate application, 60-day staff completeness review, application acceptance, OPSB Staff Review and Recommendation, public hearing, adjudicatory hearing, and certificate issuance/denial.”
Dean said, “They are not obtrusive, and usually they are all well-maintained as far as the landscape and the plants that are put in there — they use native plants. I don’t personally see a big issue with it, but those that have issues need to come (to the meeting) to ask questions of the company so that they feel comfortable themselves.”
The board of appeals meeting is open to the public and was be held at 7 p.m. Monday at at the Union Township building, located at 1505 Old State Route 38 N.E., Washington C.H.
National Grid Renewables, according to its website, “includes the renewables development company formerly known as Geronimo Energy, is a leading North American renewable energy company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with satellite offices located in the regions where it develops, constructs, and operates renewable energy projects. As a farmer-friendly and community focused company, National Grid Renewables develops projects for corporations and utilities that seek to repower America’s electricity grid by reigniting local economies and reinvesting in a sustainable future. National Grid Renewables is part of the competitive, unregulated Ventures division of National Grid and has a portfolio of solar, wind, and energy storage projects located throughout the United States in various stages of development, construction and operation.”
Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355.