WILLIAMSPORT — The Atlanta Solar Farm project is continuing ahead with its construction to start next summer with the project opening in late 2022.

Savion is the renewable energy company behind the project. 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.

On Feb. 4, Savion met with about 15 people from the area at the Atlanta United Methodist Church, and for two hours answered questions and provided information on the project.

“Working with the community, listening to their input, and collaborating to make the best project possible for everyone is our goal,” stated Sarah Moser, senior development manager for Savion.

The project application was filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) on Jan. 31 and is currently under review. The process could take nine to 11 months and could result in the permit being granted in early 2021 with construction beginning shortly after. The project would be completed under that timeline by 2022.

As part of the process, Savion has met with the township trustees and Pickaway County Commissioners and according to Johnna Guinty, vice president of marketing, they will continue to do so throughout the process.

Guinty also shared some of the things that people have been asking about in regards to the project, including why choosing that location, which is due to only a small portion of land being suitable for solar farm.

“Pickaway County farmers have been proudly farming family land for many generations, and now they have an opportunity to utilize their land to harvest another stable cash crop — the sun,” Guinty commented. “Many farmers who host a solar project have not made the choice to give up farming completely, but rather have chosen to take some acreage out of agricultural production for renewable energy production.

“For some landowners, this can be a hedge against shifting commodity prices that can sustain the rest of their agricultural production. When the project reaches its end-of-life, all equipment will be removed and the land returned to its original state so the landowner has the opportunity to return to using the land as they had before,” she added.

Guintry also laid out what Savion believes the local economic benefits to the project are.

“The proposed 200 megawatt project in Pickaway County is expected to provide annual tax revenue of approximately $1 million,” she continued. “This means increased funds for the county and townships which will provide additional funding for things like the health board, vocational programs, the park districts, libraries, schools, and roads. This project will also provide participating landowners with a stable income for the life of the project.

“In addition to these benefits, the Atlanta Farms Solar Project will create around 575 jobs during the construction period, generating a revenue boom in host communities for retail, housing, hospitality, local tile, excavating and quarries, and others involved in the supply chain through the duration of the construction process.

“A major benefit of solar projects is that they do not create additional strain on community resources once they are operational, like roads, schools, and emergency services,” she concluded.

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