LIMA – Residents were hoping to find out details on Monday evening about where Lightsource bp is planning to set up a solar park.
It did not happen.
The first question the public asked during the virtual meeting with Lightsource was about the final layout of the solar project’s location.
“We have not yet determined the details of any of these panels,” said Shanelle Montana, Head of Development at Lightsource bp. It noted that Lightsource bp has not yet submitted a formal application to the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB), the agency that will ultimately approve or reject the Birch Solar project.
These details could be a month away.
In response to a question from Ashley Shafer about how long it would take for the solar farm’s footprint to be made, Montana replied, “I have to say next month when we submit our application to the OPSB. “
The meeting was the second public forum on the proposed project, which is a requirement of the OPSB. The meetings should clarify all questions of those interested in the project.
One person asked about payment instead of taxes and where they are at the moment.
“We are at a very early stage in the discussion of the PILOT, but there have been no formal negotiations,” said Montana.
Lightsource said it offered a $ 2.7 million per year payment in lieu of taxes that would be split in four ways between the common vocational school district, local school district, county and townships.
Lightsource has reached out to both Allen and Auglaize Counties and the auditor’s offices in both counties to begin discussions about payment instead of tax.
Landowners adjoining the project are offered between $ 5,000 and $ 50,000 depending on their proximity to the solar park.
One woman wanted to know which trees are being planted as a buffer between the solar park and the neighboring landowners.
“We will work with every landowner. We traditionally look at evergreens, ”said Montana.
Dave Stratton, President and CEO of the Allen County Development Group, asked about the next steps in the solar project.
“We collect community input. … We’ll start drawing up our application and see how much we can invest in the project, what types of trees we need to use, what types of fences we need to use, ”said Montana.
The lighting of the solar park was a man’s concern.
“All of our solar projects don’t have night lighting,” said Steve Barnes, engineer at Lightsource bp.
Shawnee Township Trustee David Belton asked, “Are local township zoning requirements being considered?”
“Instead, we are regulated by the state process. The actual zoning for the project is done by the state, ”said Montana.
Jill Barnes was concerned about a tornado hitting the solar panels and expressed concern about cancer risks and RF radiation from the solar farm.
Kevin Smith, CEO of Lightsource bp, replied, “There is no evidence of any of the side effects you have identified. There are no dangerous materials in them even if they are broken. The projects have proven to be safe. “
One of the questions dealt with the question of whether a contractor was still selected.
“We have not yet selected any contractors at this point. We take many inquiries from local (contractors). We want to hire 85% locals for the project, ”said Barnes.
The project would be in all and part of Auglaize Counties and create around 400 jobs during construction.
Lightsource bp leases 2,600 acres of farmland on which 900 acres of photovoltaic solar panels are to be placed.
The panels are designed to follow the sun from east to west.
If approved, the solar park should be operational in the first or second quarter of 2023.
The entire first hour was devoted to Lightsource bp explaining who they are and what the project details are.
The $ 300 million solar farm would generate 300 megawatts. Alternating current.
Lightsource bp would convert the direct current generated by the solar modules into alternating current via inverters and then transfer it to the substation in southwest Lima and feed it into the PJM power grid.
A representative from the Ohio Power Siting Board then discussed the approval process.
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Contact Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.