Solar company seeks Gorham Twp. space

By David J. Coehrs -

A solar energy company looking to construct a power facility within Gorham Township has applied for permits with the Ohio Power Siting Board.

Arche Energy Project has asked to build and operate a 107-megawatt solar-powered facility across 675 privately-owned acres in the township, according to Matt Gilroy, executive director of the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation. Pending permit approvals, Arche Energy’s plan is to begin construction next winter and open the facility for operation late in 2022.

The project would include an array of photovoltaic panels, electric collection cables, new access roads, and a maintenance building. The approximately 220,000 megawatt-hours of electricity expected to be produced each year would deliver power to an existing Fayette-area substation close to the intersection of County Road 23 and U.S. 20.

Gilroy said the power would be sold wholesale or through power purchase agreements to regional companies interested in green energy practices, including manufacturing companies.

Over the past two years the company has forged sale or lease agreements with Gorham Township property owners to accommodate the solar project. “These agreements will be additional income to local property owners over the next generation,” Gilroy said.

Arche Energy also negotiated an agreement with the Fulton County Commissioners to pay approximately $750,000 in additional property tax each year for at least 30 years. Of that revenue, Fayette Local Schools would receive about $450,000 annually during the same period.

The project would temporarily employ a couple of hundred construction workers and provide two or three permanent jobs. A public hearing on the solar facility took place Tuesday, and an evidentiary hearing will be held by YouTube teleconference Feb. 17.

“The facility will 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,” said Fulton County Administrator Vond Hall.

No deal has been finalized, but should the project be green-lighted “it’s good for the community, and it’s going to bring in tax dollars for the (Fayette) schools,” Gorham Township Trustee Trevor Hibbard said.

He said a second solar energy company, ConnectGEN, is also seeking to build in Gorham Township, and has inquired about buying and leasing private property. Should it also be approved, ConnectGEN and Arche Energy combined would occupy 1,000 or more acres in Fulton County.

Gilroy said, however, that ConnectGEN has not yet filed with the Ohio Power Siting Board, and would need to hold public meetings before proceeding further.

By David J. Coehrs

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

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