Greene County files notice of intervention in solar farm case

Greene landowners concerned over potential solar farm. FILE
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Greene landowners concerned over potential solar farm. FILE

Greene County Commission has filed a notice of intervention with the Ohio Power Siting Board for a proposed solar farm being planned near John Bryan State Park.

Greene County does not need to take a stance on a project, but by filing a notice of intervention it allows the county to testify as part of the process with state board.

“There is no position in this resolution at this time,” said county administrator Brandon Huddleson, noting it simply says the commissioners would want to be involved in the process.

Vesper Energy proposes spending between $144 million and $171 million to build the local project, known as Kingwood Solar. Construction could start as soon as summer 2022, with green energy produced around the fall of 2023. The company plans to erect 410,000 solar photovoltaic panels over 1,200 acres, along with a substation, utility switchyard and other infrastructure.

The project, located along Clifton Road and Wilberforce-Clifton Road and spanning multiple townships, has been divisive, as some neighbors believe it will hurt their land values while property owners who have contracted with the company argue it will help their farms.

However, two Greene County commissioners spoke out against the solar farm during a meeting in May.

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Commissioner Tom Koogler said he is opposed to the project and feels the project is profit-motivated and not community-motivated. He said he feels the project is being “rammed down the community’s throats.”

Commissioner Dick Gould said he was not opposed to solar but didn’t like that this project is planned to be so close to natural resources, like Glen Helen and John Bryan State Park, and in a highly populated area of the county. Gould said the population of that area of the county has grown substantially in the past decade and he believed putting solar panels there would be intrusive on many people’s homes.

Commissioner Rick Perales said the two most important things for the commissioners to do are understand what they have authority over and to make sure the correct information is getting out to the community about the project. He said at the time he did not have a stance on the project.

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Vesper Energy has secured long-term leases with 17 landowners in the area.

The application for the solar farm estimates a multimillion-dollar impact for Greene County, but only if certain approvals from county commissioners are met. The impact would come from construction work and tax revenue for both the county and the township.

Xenia Twp., Miami Twp. and Cedarville Twp. have all filed motions to intervene with the siting board.

The Ohio Power Siting Board will make the final decision on the solar project. The county does have a say when it comes to considering a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) program. PILOTs provide a consistent, guaranteed yearly payment from the company to the county for the life of the project. That would be done instead of taxing the facility, which would also generate annual payments but those would decrease over time as the facility’s equipment ages.

Contact Eileen McClory at 937-694-2016 or eileen.mcclory@coxinc.com.