Residents debate controversial Greene County solar farm

Dylan Stickney, development manager for Vesper Energy, speaks with a citizen about the proposed solar power project in Greene County on Tuesday. Eileen McClory / Staff

caption arrowCaption
Dylan Stickney, development manager for Vesper Energy, speaks with a citizen about the proposed solar power project in Greene County on Tuesday. Eileen McClory / Staff

Texas company Vesper Energy, formerly known as Lendlease, held an informational session Tuesday night for residents to ask questions about the solar farm the company plans to build in Greene County.

About 75 people came to the informational session, many with lists of questions for the company’s representatives. The project 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.

caption arrowCaption
A photo of an easel showing the anticipated project schedule for the proposed solar farm in Greene County on Tuesday. Eileen McClory / Staff

A photo of an easel showing the anticipated project schedule for the proposed solar farm in Greene County on Tuesday. Eileen McClory / Staff

caption arrowCaption
A photo of an easel showing the anticipated project schedule for the proposed solar farm in Greene County on Tuesday. Eileen McClory / Staff

Jenifer Adams, a spokeswoman for the group Citizens for Greene Acres, which opposes the solar farm, said the group has many concerns about the project, including about how it could affect their property values. She said she felt unsatisfied by the meeting Tuesday night.

ExploreApplication for controversial solar farm estimates multi-million dollar impact for Greene County

“We feel like we’re getting canned sales pitches or promises. We’re not getting answers that are based in actual developer experience,” Adams said.

Vesper Energy plans to call the solar farm in Greene County Kingwood Solar Farm and has secured long-term leases with 17 landowners in that 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.

Dylan Stickney, a development manager for Vesper Energy, stressed the solar panel technology is safe and has been proven not to have negative health affects, which was a misconception he has heard from locals.

“The last thing we want to do is pose any health or safety risk to any other community,” he said.

ExploreHundreds show up to listen, voice opinions about proposed Greene County solar project

One farmer who leased his land to the company and didn’t want to give his name because many of his neighbors are upset about the project said he saw the project as a way to preserve the land for decades into the future because the lease is over decades.

He said his kids do not live in the state and don’t want to farm, so if they inherited right now, the most profitable thing to do with the land would be selling it to a developer. That’s not something he’s interested in, he said, and he hopes the land will remain undeveloped for decades into the future.

caption arrowCaption
A photo of an easel with information on the natural and cultural resource review for the proposed solar farm in Greene County on Tuesday. Eileen McClory / Staff

A photo of an easel with information on the natural and cultural resource review for the proposed solar farm in Greene County on Tuesday. Eileen McClory / Staff

caption arrowCaption
A photo of an easel with information on the natural and cultural resource review for the proposed solar farm in Greene County on Tuesday. Eileen McClory / Staff

“It’s almost putting land in a land trust,” he said.

Matt Schilling, a spokesman for the Ohio Power Siting Board, the government agency that will approve or deny the project, said a public hearing will be held on the project in late summer or early fall.

ExploreTwo Greene County commissioners oppose solar project

The siting board said the earliest the project could be approved or denied would be early 2022.

Steve Combs, chairman of Xenia Twp. trustees, said he wished the farm was something that could be put to a referendum. He said he believed it was not popular enough to pass if it was put to a vote in Greene County.

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

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

About the Author