On April 16, 2020, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) held a virtual meeting where it ruled in favor of a series of certificate application and modification requests filed by large-scale solar developers in the state. The measure cleared the path for three projects — two in Hardin County and one in Brown and Clermont counties — to move forward.
“Members of USSEC support the OPSB decisions, which will allow for continued
progress in an important and fast-growing industry for Ohio,” said Andy Bowers, Utility Scale Solar Energy Coalition (USSEC) representative. “The utility scale solar industry is ready to meet Ohio’s energy needs, create significant jobs, and provide vital financial resources to Ohio’s communities. Taken together, today’s decisions could result in lifetime tax revenue of more than $180 million to the local schools and communities where these will be constructed.”
On Oct. 17, 2019, the OPSB had highlighted a number of areas where further information was needed in order for the requested permit and modifications to receive approval. Since that time, the industry has worked with the OPSB to address the outstanding concerns. In one instance, the legal case docket was reopened and modifications to the permit application were made.
Nestlewood is a proposed 80 megawatt (MW) solar-powered electric generation facility located in Brown and Clermont Counties in southwest Ohio, approximately 25 miles east of Cincinnati. The project area is approximately 610 acres and will utilize roughly 300,000 panels and is expected to generate approximately 175,000 megawatt-hours of electricity each year. This energy is sufficient to meet the energy needs of approximately 16,000 households.
“We appreciate the Power Siting Board holding virtual meetings to keep business moving forward, and are excited to see that Nestlewood is now able to move to the next step of helping to meet the electricity demand of the region while supporting needed local jobs for Ohio,” said Bruce Burcat, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition.
The Hardin Solar Energy Center is a proposed 150 MW solar power generation facility in Hardin County targeted to begin operating in 2021. The Hardin II Solar Energy Center is a proposed 170-megawatt MW solar power generation facility in Hardin County, Ohio, targeted to begin operating in 2023.
“Hardin County Chamber & Business Alliance is encouraged that the Ohio Power Siting Board approved an application for Hardin County Solar to move one step closer to breaking ground — especially now, as we consider the importance of building a stronger, more resilient economy,” said Jacqueline Fitzgerald, Hardin County Chamber & Business Alliance Director of Community Development. “We look forward to the injection of hundreds of new jobs for the construction phase of the 320MW solar project and the new annual tax revenues of more than $2,800,000 following construction.”
In the first quarter of 2020, more than 500 MWs of large-scale solar projects have broken ground in Ohio. The Hillcrest Solar project in Brown County broke ground on March 12, 2020 and is currently the largest in the state at 200 MWs, which includes 600,000 solar panels manufactured in Perrysburg by First Solar. The annual local revenue from this one project will be $1.8 million, with a lifetime revenue of more than $72 million for the local communities.
The rise in development of solar facilities in Ohio will take up significant chunks of farmland for two to four decades, the typical duration of lease agreements with the solar energy companies seeking Ohio land. Some local landowners are not pleased with the projects near their homes.
Ohio competes with many other states for these significant projects. The cost of solar has fallen more than 80% over the past decade. The state’s surprisingly strong solar resource, the available transmission capacity, and the amount of flat, tillable acreage in the state have positioned Ohio to be a potential leader in the region.