CIRCLEVILLE— The Pickaway County Commissioners received an update on the proposed solar farm in Pickaway County.
Sarah Moser, senior development manager for Savion, a renewable energy company that is behind the proposed project, spoke about it at the Commissioners Meeting last week.
The proposed solar farm would produce about 200 megawatts of power and could occupy approximately 1,800 acres of property near Atlanta, which is in the western half of Pickaway County between New Holland and Williamsport. About 100 megawatts of power provides enough electricity to power approximately 25,000 homes for a year.
Moser said a recent community meeting went wonderfully and they will likely have more in the future.
“We had the public information meeting on Nov. 4, a Monday evening, and I would say we had 70-plus people show up,” Moser stated. “I think people came expecting a presentation but the nature of these meetings are held is that it’s stations around the room so they can focus on what they’re interested in.”
Moser said residents to the area might see activity on the site but they’re not starting construction, they’re just conducing the necessary tests on the land.
“There are some study groups out there, I believe they drove some piles [last week] and you’ll see all kinds of activity,” she added. “They were out there doing soil bore samples. They typically do that later in the process. Because of this delay we’ve had the chairman of the Ohio Power Siting Board wants to see more final designs and details so we’re doing these studies now and not in the spring.”
Moser said they’ve started a Facebook page and have a website at https://www.atlantafarmssolarproject.com/.
According to Moser, they’ve heard a number of concerns from the public including concrete being put in the ground, the height of the solar panels to area wildlife and more.
“We’ll work with soil and water, the FSA office to make sure we get the native mix of grasses and it’ll make for a neat nature reserve,” she continued. “A big thing people say to me is taking prime farmland out of production. What I always tell people is that it’s not out of production and there’s no concrete in the ground. When we’re done, those come out like fence posts and you’re back to normal.
“On the prime farmland aspect of it, markets aren’t great right now so this is a way to take it back to virgin ground,” Moser added. “I can guarantee you nobody is going to build a house there in the next 30 years. I have a lot of land owners talk to me about it.”
Moser indicated there would be more public input, including another public information meeting and a public hearing, which will be announced at a later date.
“We were hoping to submit the application on Dec. 1, and we’re delaying it until the end of January, first week of February,” Moser said. “This public information meeting gives us 90 days. If we don’t get it submitted by Feb. 1, we’re required to have another public information meeting.
“The permitting process they say is nine to 11 months so we’d have a permit by the end of 2020,” Moser remarked, assuming if they apply and are approved on the application they plan to submit at the end of January. “Most likely it’ll be negotiations and financing and construction meetings so you probably won’t see construction start until summer of 2021, maybe fall. Worst case, it won’t start until 2022. It’ll come online and produce power by the end of 2022.”