With the first public hearing having been held Tuesday night on a proposed northwestern Highland County solar facility, two road use maintenance agreements (RUMA) were approved by county commissioners Jeff Duncan and David Daniels Wednesday, paving the way for construction to begin on two southwestern Highland County solar panel farms being built by Hecate Energy.
One RUMA between the commissioners, Highland County Engineer Chris Fauber and Hecate Highland 4, LLC was for New Market Solar I, while the other dealt with Hecate Highland 2, LLC’s New Market Solar II project.
As previously reported in The Times-Gazette, both solar panel generating facilities are planned to occupy a little over 1,000 acres of land in Clay and Whiteoak townships and are projected to generate a combined 100 megawatts of electrical power.
The bifurcated project is actually two distinct and separate facilities, with New Market Solar I set to generate 65-megawatts from its 582 acres of solar panels, while New Market Solar II will generate 35-megawatts from its 222 acres of solar panels. Other acres will be inside a fenced-in area.
Hecate spokesman Jared Wren told The Times-Gazette that with Wednesdays RUMA agreements and the expected certificate issuance by the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB), Hecate plans to begin construction later this spring, with completion and coupling to the power grid forecast for the fourth quarter of this year.
Fauber said his office and Hecate have been hard at work for the past several months concerning the road use maintenance agreements.
“This will be a RUMA that we plan on executing in the county for all of the solar projects in the future,” he said.
Wren commended Fauber on the professionalism of the engineer’s office in bringing the agreements to a satisfactory conclusion for both the county and Hecate Energy.
“These two RUMAs only involve county roads currently for these two projects,” Wren said. “There is another one that we’ll execute later that will have some township roads, and we’ll involve the township trustees in that.”
He said that the construction contractor planned to begin tree work on March 19 in order to meet an April 1 deadline, with Wren indicating his company wanted to move forward as quickly as possible once the OPSB issues its certificate of approval for the project.
Tuesday evening, the OPSB held the first of two hearings to gain public input on the Palomino Solar Farm, a 2,800-acre project proposed by Canadian energy developer Innergex, to be located near Lynchburg and Allensburg.
In other matters, two resolutions were approved, one to vacate for closure approximately 1,650 feet of South Lake Shore Drive at Rocky Fork Lake, with the other authorizing a funds reimbursement from the Child Support Enforcement Agency to public assistance.
One other contract was between the commissioners, the county engineer and Master Mind, LLC for RHI-CEAO safety studies for fiscal year 2021.
Commission chair Duncan was also authorized to execute an agreement with Ohio Means Jobs for an extension of the local workforce area memorandum of understanding (MOU) through June 30, 2022.
Duncan also said a leaky roof issue at the High-TEC Center was being addressed, and that bids were being taken from contractors for installation of a new roof covering.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.