Proposed solar project up for discussion in Greene County – WYSO Public Radio

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A new solar project is being pitched to community members in Miami, Cedarville and Xenia townships in Greene County.

The developers behind the Aviation Energy Center project are Texas-based Vesper Energy. Last week, Vesper Energy staff hosted meet and greets around Greene County to get feedback from neighbors.

The developers have also approached township and county officials. They presented the idea for the project to Miami and Cedarville trustees in public meetings in December.

The Ohio Power Siting Board denied another Vesper-backed solar project – Kingwood Solar – in December 2022 due to local opposition. Vesper appealed this decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.

Details about the new project aren’t yet solidified. But it could range from a 50 MW to 175 MW solar facility.

Lindsey Workman, community affairs manager for Aviation Energy Center, said Vesper hopes to address specific concerns regarding this project.

“We’re looking to continue building a relationship within the community and trust with the residents. And these events are a way for us to show that we’re here, we’re listening, we want to be here,” she said.

Hannah Larkin, development manager with Vesper Energy, said residents can also provide important local knowledge that Vesper can be mindful of with this project.

I can’t tell you about that historical use of the land. I can’t find that out from consultants. So the folks that come to these events and provide feedback are giving such valuable information that without that engagement, you’d miss,” Larkin said.

This time the developers appear committed to doing this project right, said Marilan Moir, a Miami township trustee.

“I hope they can come up with a smart and humane plan so that we can make progress in getting away from fossil fuels,” she said.

The developers said they want to have a positive impact on the community and its environment.

For example, they’re discussing planting pollinator habitat or grazing sheep around the solar panels.

Larkin said these townships were identified because of their proximity to a vital interconnection point to the power grid in Ohio. The solar facility would have to be built near this point to reduce construction costs, she said.

Vesper Energy has an interconnection agreement with PJM, the power grid operator for the region. They hope the project will be approved and permitted before that agreement expires in two years.

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