ExploreHundreds of people come to listen and share their views on the proposed Greene County solar project
Dylan Stickney, Development Manager at Vesper, said the working session with the commissioners was constructive and most of the time was spent answering questions such as economic impact and community concerns.
“I hope that with every meeting, discussion and submission, the public will learn more about Kingwood Solar and how solar development in general can be of great benefit to a local community and is a critical step in the energy transition,” Stickney said in an email statement.
At the meeting, Commissioner Tom Koogler said he was against the project and believed that the project was for profit and not community driven. He said he felt the project was “being rammed in the throats of the community.”
“The meeting only confirmed my concerns,” said Koogler. “This is not going to be good for Greene County. It won't come out positive for Greene County. Quality of life is important to the people of Greene County. “
Commissioner Dick Gould said he was not against solar energy but did not like the project being as close to natural resources as Glen Helen and John Bryan State Park and in a densely populated area of the county. Gould said the area of the county has grown significantly in terms of population over the past decade, and he believes installing solar panels in many people's homes would be intrusive.
“I know a lot is determined by the transmission lines, but there are more rural areas that would be more suitable,” said Gould.
ExploreControversial Solar Farm Application Estimates Multi-Million Dollar Impact on Greene County
Commissioner Rick Perales said the two most important things for commissioners to understand are what they have and ensure that the correct information about the project is getting to the community.
“I'm not for or against them yet. I'm still doing my due diligence, ”said Perales. “I don't know that's even our role. We can step in and say we need road maintenance, we need this, this or the other, and that could be our intervention. It doesn't have to be right or wrong because, to be honest, we don't make the decision, that is solely the job of the Ohio Power Siteing Board. “
District Administrator Brandon Huddleson has said the district is likely to intervene in the Ohio Power Siteing Board (OPSB) trial. An intervener does not have to take a position on a project to be involved.
An official application for this project was submitted to the OPSB on April 16. Now that the application has been submitted, it will take up to 60 days for the OPSB staff to review the application for completeness with the board rules and to ensure that it includes all of the information necessary for staff to move on to the next stage, Matt said Butler, spokesman for the OPSB. Employees can request additional information if they believe an application is incomplete. As soon as the application is deemed complete, hearings will be scheduled.
The county has time to intervene until the hearings are scheduled.
Miami Twp., Cedarville Twp. and Xenia Twp. have all entered to intervene in the case. The Tecumseh Land Trust and a farm under the name In Progress LLC have also requested intervention, according to OPSB documents. In Progress LLC operates 15 acres of land that would be adjacent to this project.
The final decision on a solar project is made by the OPSB. The county has a say in considering a PILOT program. PILOTs provide a consistent, guaranteed annual payment from the company to the county for the entire duration of the project. This would be done instead of taxing the facility, which would also result in annual payments, but which would decrease over time as the facility's equipment ages.
Huddleson said he would recommend commissioners not to accept the PILOT program. In addition, none of the commissioners said they would be in favor of approving the program.
“I would be against the PILOT on the basis of numbers,” said Gould.
According to an estimated tax revenue analysis prepared by Kingwood Solar, the county would collect approximately $ 49 million in taxes from 2021 to 2050 without the PILOT. With the PILOT, the county would collect about $ 45 million in the same period.
“I haven't seen a convincing argument for the PILOT yet,” said Perales.