WILMINGTON — In a Wednesday press release, each Clinton County commissioner stated objections to a Chicago company’s proposal to build a 300-megawatt solar power generation facility in southern Clinton County.
The proposed utility-scale project is named the Yellow Wood Solar Energy Center. The land in question is in Jefferson and Clark Townships, as previously reported in News Journal articles starting in December 2020.
A representative of the Invenergy company did not reply to an email request for comment by News Journal deadline.
The press release contains individual statements from the three county commissioners.
Commissioners President Brenda K. Woods’ entire quotation is: “Our neighbors in other counties have seen firsthand the lack of accountability once thousands of these panels and related infrastructure are installed. There are issues with disruptive and continual noise during construction, ongoing drainage and erosion that affect neighboring properties, and reduction in neighboring property values.
“I remain concerned about the lack of oversight, maintenance and upkeep over a long, 30-plus-years installation as well as end-of-life removal and disposal of the equipment,” Woods continued. “Agreement has not been reached on essential terms for Clinton County, including substantial increases in all setbacks and authority to approve or deny stormwater mitigation plans. This [stipulation] agreement does not protect the county and its citizens who are directly affected. We do not want this for our Clinton County residents.”
Commissioner Kerry R. Steed’s full quotation is: “I am on the record as being 100 percent opposed to these types of industrial scale solar projects. I find it unacceptable that this industrial scale solar project takes thousands of acres of the most productive farmland in the state out of use and negatively affects the ag economy in Clinton County.”
Commissioner Mike McCarty’s quotation in full is: “From the beginning, I’ve been concerned about the lack of accountability. Based upon their own statements, the Ohio Power Siting Board does not proactively monitor or enforce compliance once the sites are built.
“When you look at projects in other counties, which I have, you can see firsthand the results of this lack of accountability,” McCarty added. “The project sites are poorly maintained and for a project that will require a commitment to ongoing maintenance for 30 or more years, that is a significant concern.”
The release also indicates the commissioners oppose an anticipated request by Invenergy to receive a tax abatement, “which would effectively reduce the anticipated full value of taxes on their project to all taxing authorities over a 30-year period.”
According to the website of the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB), which reviews applications for the construction of major utility facilities in the state, the current status of the proposed Yellow Wood Solar Energy Center project is labeled as “pending”. The website also shows the OPSB has not yet made a decision either to issue or deny a certificate in the matter.
The most recent formal proceeding on the project held by the Ohio Power Siting Board — captioned “In the Matter of the Application of Yellow Wood Solar Energy LLC, for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need for the Construction of a Solar-Powered Electric Generation Facility in Clinton County, Ohio” — was held at the offices of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in Columbus on Nov. 17, 2021.
According to the posted transcript of that meeting, legal counsel for Invenergy proposed to Administrative Law Judge Jacky St. John that the law firm and its client would “submit biweekly e-mails that will update you [St. John] on the status of the negotiations as they move forward. And at a point in time when the parties are where they need to be with settlement the parties will come together, put together proposed testimony deadlines as well as reopening and reconvening of the hearing.”
All those present at the November meeting consented, and the hearing was adjourned.
At a June 29, 2021 public forum at the Clinton County Courthouse, residents who live near the proposed site voiced a range of concerns, including effects on water in their wells, real estate sale values, dust and noise during construction, prison-like fences surrounding the solar array, leakage from solar panels, and a need to protect the rural character of Clinton County.
The commissioners’ release has a summary of the proposed solar project.
“Yellow Wood Solar Project as proposed in Clark and Jefferson townships would consist of 740,000 solar panels, ground-mounted on a tracking rack system,” begins the summary. “The project would occupy approximately 2,460 acres within an approximate 4,400-acre project area and would include associated infrastructure including access roads, an operations and maintenance building, underground and overhead electric collection lines, weather stations, inverters and transformers, a collection substation, and a 345-kV gen-tie electric transmission line. The project would be secured by 6-feet tall perimeter fencing with a standard 300-foot setback from fence line to residences.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.