Kingwood Solar scales back project scope after community backlash

Inverter stations will also be farther away, 500 feet from any nonparticipating home, a bigger setback than any other developer in Ohio, project manager Dylan Stickney said.

“Based on the direct feedback we received from community members, as well as guidance from the Greene County Land Use Plan Amendment passed in August 2021, we believe these changes address many physical concerns that have been expressed,” Stickney said.

To exploreThe solar project ‘tore our tight-knit community apart’

Ohio Power Siting Board staff recommended in November that the OPSB board reject the company’s application. The company’s arbitration hearing before the settlement committee has been moved to March 7, with the board’s decision expected in the spring. If approved, Kingwood hopes to begin construction this fall, with completion by 2023.

The 320-acre reduction means the 17 landowners renting farmland in Kingwood would likely see a loss of rental income of around $320,000, or $19,000 per farmer per year, under the new plan. Kingwood acquired long-term leases from at least 17 landowners for the project in 2020.

Additionally, the decrease in project size means that the facility may reduce its production capacity. Kingwood’s original goal was to produce up to 360,000 megawatt hours of electricity per year, which is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 250,000 metric tons. The company hopes to maintain this number by using more efficient panels, larger panels, or installing more panels in less space.

“Usually the final site design isn’t set in stone until construction begins, but there will likely be a reduction on our side in the amount of power we’re able to generate,” Stickney said. .

To exploreOperation Giant Kingwood Solar opposes Greene County Commission

Many local residents have long opposed solar utility, citing Kingwood’s use of prime farmland and the proximity of solar panels to rural homes. In November, individuals testified at a public hearing that Texas-based Vesper Energy, which owns Kingwood, approached them in bad faith.

In October, Kingwood offered 65 residential owners with property immediately adjacent to the Kingwood site a “good neighbor agreement”, or financial compensation between $7,500 and $25,000, provided they did not object. not publicly to the project. The owner would receive $1,000 upon signing, followed by a larger sum once construction is expected to begin.

Electricity generated by Kingwood Solar will not be shipped out of state, Stickney said, and will be distributed on the First Energy system in and around Greene County.

“This will directly help Southwest Ohio contribute to the critical transition to clean energy generation for a low-carbon, sustainable future,” he said.