Solar project seeks tax alternative


By David J. Coehrs - dcoehrs@aimmediamidwest.com



Fulton County Commissioners plan to vote this week to support a pilot payment program for a Texas-based company eager to construct a multi-million dollar solar-powered electric facility in Gorham Township.

The government program, operated through the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA), would allow the Austin company, 7X Energy, to make a flat annual payment to the county in lieu of yearly property taxes for the proposed 107-megawatt solar-powered facility. Known as the Arche Energy Project, the facility would benefit Gorham Township and the county, and significantly benefit Fayette Local Schools.

The 675-acre facility would be built on leased farmland near a substation located off of County Road 23. According to Cliff Scher, 7X Energy senior director of development, the company’s annual payment to the county would total a minimum of $7,000 per megawatt.

Scher said the viability of the Arche Energy Project is partly dependent on initiating the pilot payment program. The company has made application to the ODSA.

7X Energy will offer a power point presentation of the project online July 14 at gotomeeting.com. On July 16, the company will hold an approximately two-hour public meeting regarding the project by teleconference. Information for both can be found at archesolarfarm.com.

“The facility would produce solar-powered electricity that will maximize energy production from available solar resources in order to deliver clean, renewable electricity to the Ohio bulk power transmission system to serve the needs of electric utilities and their customers,” Fulton County Administrator Vond Hall said.

Matt Gilroy, executive director of the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation, projects that a 107-megawatt development would generate an extra $749,000 annually from 7X Energy, even over the company’s leasing agreement. He said the result would be more than $400,000 each year for the Fayette school district.

Gilroy said the project would also produce numerous construction jobs.

The company has been in leasing discussions with Gorham Township farmland owners for the past year. Gilroy said 7X Energy prefers relatively flat land because it eases the development process.

He added, “The private industries purchasing the power can negotiate a flat rate for electricity over a period of time, which could be beneficial to their own business.”

Construction would begin late next year, with an opening date in 2022.

Scher said Gorham Township was chosen as one of several sites in Ohio for the three-year-old company’s solar projects due to its flat land, the access to infrastructure, and the interest of landowners to lease their property. 7X Energy has operating and pending projects in seven states, most in Texas.

He said the Fulton County site “is certainly the most advanced that we have in Ohio.” The project was initiated in March of 2019.

“Things are certainly headed in the right direction,” Scher said. “Things are very positive, but there’s still a way to go. I hope to be able to see the project realized.”

By David J. Coehrs

dcoehrs@aimmediamidwest.com

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.