Application denied for Greene County solar project
The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) denied the application for a utility scale solar project in Greene County today. The OPSB's Public Information Officer sent this statement to WYSO this afternoon about the board's rationale:
"The OPSB found that, based on the unanimous opposition to the project by local governments whose constituents are impacted by the project, the Kingwood Solar project would fail to serve the 'public interest, convenience, and necessity' as required by Ohio law. The OPSB noted that all four local governments in the Kingwood Solar project area opposed its approval and that the overwhelming number of public comments filed in the case, which largely disfavor the project, reinforce the local government opposition."
The proposed Kingwood Solar project would cover hundreds of acres of private farmland in Xenia, Cedarville, and Miami Townships. Kingwood would produce enough clean energy to power tens of thousands of homes annually.
Jane Spencer Sweet is one of the landowners leasing her land for the project. She said in an interview with WYSO that she was disappointed with the OPSB's ruling. She said Kingwood would be a good financial opportunity for her family and would be good for the environment.
“I believe in the value of the solar project for the community, it's not a personal win or loss," Sweet said. "We thought that Kingwood’s design incorporates elements of the past and the future.”
A group called Citizens for Greene Acres has spoken out against the project, citing concerns about an alternate land use for productive farmland.
Citizens for Greene Acres President Jenifer Adams told WYSO in an interview Thursday afternoon that her group is elated about the OPSB's decision to deny the Kingwood Application.
"The process has worked and all of our local governments listened. They all came together," Adams said. "They've worked to respect our land use plans and our local zoning and they stepped up and they participated in the process that the OPSB lays out for these types of developments."
The company that is proposing the project, Vesper Energy, did not immediately respond to WYSO's request for a comment on the OPSB decision. Vesper has 30 days to file an application for a rehearing on the board's decision. If Vesper’s application is denied again at an OPSB re-hearing, they can appeal the decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Chris Welter is a reporter and corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.