A grass roots organization calling itself Clinton County/Highland County Citizens Concerned About Solar Farms is having an informational meeting Tuesday, May 4 at 7 p.m. at the Lynchburg Fire Department, located at 8123 S.R. 135 in Lynchburg.
On its Facebook page, the group states that it has 611 members.
State Rep. and Lynchburg native Shane Wilkin (R-Dist. 91) told The Times-Gazette that he will be in attendance at the meeting “with open eyes and an open mind” as to what concerns some of his constituents may have concerning the proliferation of solar panel farms around his home town.
“I am told some trustees will be there, with the commissioners from both counties having been invited as well,” Wilkin said. “The meeting is intended to be a fair amount of question and answer.”
By his own admission, David Gingerich is the organization’s “most outspoken member,” and said that the main reason for the meeting is to gain Wilkin’s support of House Bill 118, one of a pair of bills before the Ohio legislature that would give voters in townships affected by utility-scale wind or solar projects the right to vote on whether or not they would be welcome in their communities.
“What we want to accomplish is to present the facts that I have researched to Representative Wilkin, since I don’t think he’s had the opportunity to have them presented to him,” Gingerich said. “We’d like to move Shane’s opinion to support House Bill 118, and give us the right to vote by township … that’s the whole reason for the meeting, to let the electors in the township speak.”
Wilkin, who said he wanted to hear both sides of the issue at Tuesday’s meeting, said that he felt those bills before the legislature were not the way to go in addressing the concerns of local individuals, since in his view they infringed on property rights.
According to the Ohio Legislature website, House Bill 118 and Senate Bill 52 seek to give local townships the ability to vote on whether or not utility-scale wind or solar projects could be coming to their communities by allowing residents to hold a referendum.
The House measure would go one step further by permitting township voters, through a referendum petition process, to overturn a decision of the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) if it ruled in favor of construction, operation or maintenance of a utility-scale energy facility.
Another dangerous aspect, in Wilkin’s eyes, is the consideration of making the legislation — if passed — retroactive to an earlier date, meaning that facilities either under construction or already operational could be forced to shut down and be removed under a local referendum.
Mary Remsing, clerk for the Highland County Board of Commissioners, confirmed that Jeff Duncan, Terry Britton and David Daniels will be a part of the Wednesday night meeting, and Gingerich said that Highland County Auditor Bill Fawley and Highland County Engineer Chris Fauber will be in attendance as well.
The local concerns and questions stem from the fact that there are three proposed solar panel farms in the vicinity of Lynchburg.
Across the Clinton/Highland County line in Jefferson and Clark townships in southern Clinton County, Invenergy has proposed to build the 300-megawatt Yellow Wood solar farm on nearly 3,000 acres.
Directly east of the village is the Innergex-planned Palomino solar farm, rated at 200 megawatts and proposed to occupy 2,800 acres across Penn, Union and Dodson townships in Northwest Highland County.
Just south of Lynchburg, and the latest player in the solar panel game, is National Grid Renewables’ Dodson Creek solar array system, which had a public information hearing April 28 to answer questions about the 117-megawatt facility that is projected to sit on nearly 1,000 acres.
Following Tuesday’s solar question and answer in Lynchburg, National Grid Renewables is holding an open house to provide information and answer questions related to it’s Fayette Solar Farm.
Fayette Solar is proposed to be located within both Fayette and Highland counties on over 400 acres of land, generating 47.5 megawatts.
The company said that a portion of the power generated — 7.5-megwatts — will be built in Madison Township, about one-half mile north of Greenfield.
The open house for Fayette Solar is set for Thursday, March 6, from 5-8 p.m. in the Madison Township Community Building at 12646 Centerfield Road in Greenfield.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.