Ohio power agency strikes down Kingwood Solar plan for Greene County

Vesper Energy had hoped to put solar panels nearly two square miles of land between Yellow Springs and Cedarville

The Ohio Power Siting Board has denied a permit application for the controversial Kingwood Solar utility in Greene County, citing an “overwhelming” number of public comments that disfavored the solar project.

The Ohio Power Siting Board found that the Kingwood Solar project would “fail to serve the ‘public interest, convenience, and necessity’ ” as required by Ohio law, based on “the unanimous opposition to the project by local governments whose constituents are impacted by the project,” a spokesperson for the siting board said.

The OPSB also noted that all four local governments in the Kingwood Solar project area — Cedarville Twp, Miami Twp., Xenia Twp. and the Greene County Board of Commissioners — opposed its approval, and that an “overwhelming number of public comments filed in the case, which largely disfavor the project, reinforce the local government opposition,” the spokesperson said.

A product of Texas-based Vesper Energy, Kingwood would have placed solar panels on roughly 1,200 acres (just shy of two square miles) between Yellow Springs and Cedarville. In February, Kingwood reduced the project area from 1,500 acres after staff from the Ohio Power Siting Board recommended denying their permit application, citing community backlash.

The board on Thursday rejected the company’s permit application to install a solar-powered electric generating facility.

The facility has long been a source of consternation in the area. Residents who oppose the project have cited Kingwood’s use of prime farmland, and the proximity of the solar panels to rural homes. Many cited their desire to preserve the rural character of their neighborhoods.

Those in favor of the development say it’s an opportunity to preserve their land for future generations, and Kingwood Solar has said the facility would generate over $1.5 million in tax revenue for the county.

The Siting Board has sole jurisdiction over whether or not utility projects are approved, but a law put in place last year gives local governments more say in the process. Last year, an OPSB staff report recommended denial of the project, saying “There is general opposition to the project from the local citizens and local governmental bodies.”

The report added that trustees in Cedarville, Miami and Xenia townships and the Greene County commissioners all filed motions to intervene in the siting process.

“The Power Siting Board recognized that solar has its place, but its place was not that location,” said Greene County Commissioner Dick Gould Thursday, noting the area was highly residential. “There are other areas of the county where it would be a great use of property.”

Kingwood Solar has 30 days to file an application for rehearing with the OPSB. Representatives of Kingwood Solar could not immediately be reached for comment.

In 2020, Kingwood acquired long-term leases from at least 17 landowners for the project, with most of that land currently in agricultural use.

About the Author