State approves Gorham Twp. solar farm


By David J. Coehrs - dcoehrs@aimmediamidwest.com



More than a year after the initial request, the Ohio Siting Power Board (OSPB) has approved construction of a 107-megawatt solar farm in Gorham Township.

The board on April 15 granted Arche Energy Project a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need to build a solar-powered electric generating facility on 675 private acres. The schedule calls for parent company 7x.Energy to begin construction of Arche Solar Farm in late 2021 and the project to be operational one year later.

Construction will include operation and maintenance buildings, solar panels, access roads, electric lines, a substation, and other equipment installation. When completed, the facility is expected to generate approximately 220,000 megawatt-hours of electricity annually, and to deliver power to an existing Fayette-area substation close to the intersection of County Road 23 and U.S. 20.

Arch Energy plans to both sell the power wholesale and to target regional companies — including manufacturers — for power purchase agreements touting green energy practices.

According to the OSPB certificate, the solar farm company is predicting the project will create 655 construction-related jobs and 11 long-term operational jobs. The company estimates the facility can operate for 30-plus years and generate annual Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) revenues totaling about $802,500 for the county’s taxing districts. Additionally, Fayette Local Schools will receive about $450,000 each year.

The certificate also states that Arche Solar Farm won’t need to use large amounts of water, will discharge almost no water or wastewater, and will utilize water conservation practices. During construction, the project will implement a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan that will lower the potential for surface water discharge to surrounding areas.

The company prepared for private land use by forging sale or long-term lease agreements with Gorham County property owners over the past two years.

OSPB received just four public comments on the project — recommendations from the Fulton County Commissioners and the Fulton County Economic Development Corporation and two opposing viewpoints from unnamed citizens.

Raheleh Folkerts, senior marketing director for 7x.energy, said the company selected Gorham Township due to its solar resource quality, topography, closeness to a power transmission system, and interest of landowners.

She said in addition to the financial benefits it will provide to the township, county, and Fayette school district, “the Arche Solar Farm will help us provide cost-competitive solar energy solutions to our customers while benefiting the next several generations through…clean, renewable electricity.”

Gorham Township Trustee Trevor Hibbard said previously the project “is good for the community, and it’s going to bring in tax dollars for the (Fayette) schools.”

ConnectGEN, an unrelated solar energy company, also wants to build a facility in Gorham Township, and has inquired about buying and leasing private property. The company has not yet filed with OPSB.

By David J. Coehrs

dcoehrs@aimmediamidwest.com

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

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