Solar field

(North at top of graph.) The black lines show the outline of the boundaries of the 500-acre solar field proposed for Jefferson Township. The field is bisected north and south by Ohio 15 (orange line).

Williams County Commissioners on Thursday approved the 49-megawatt Jefferson Township solar field application for certification.

Commissioners received the certification application Aug. 18, from the Ohio Development Services Agency. It exempts the project from otherwise applicable public utility personal property taxes and real property taxes.

In February, Charlottesville, Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy unveiled its formal proposal for a solar field for a 500-acre area generally bounded by Ohio 107/U.S. 20A to the south; west of County Road 15 to the east; County Road M to the north; and mostly east of County Road 13 to the west. The project as proposed is bisected by Ohio 15.

In 2010, the Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 232, which created the PILOT statute, enabling renewable energy developers to remit to the county a fixed annual amount per megawatt payment in lieu of real and personal property tax.

As part of the Jefferson Township proposal, the county and Apex agreed to Apex making annual payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) of $7,000 per megawatt per year to various entities in the county that would have received tax payments from the project for the 40-year lifetime of the project.

The PILOT would produce $343,000 annually. Those entities set to receive annual payments through the PILOT include North Central Schools, receiving a little more than $104,000 annually, Montpelier Schools receiving a little less than $154,000 annually and Four County Career Center more than $17,500.

More than $30,000 per year in PILOT revenues would be divided between county senior citizen services, mental health, Ohio State University Extension, the county soil and water district and the county library system. Jefferson Township would receive about $16,000 a year, the county health district about $6,000 per year and the county general fund about $11,000 annually.

In addition, in the formal resolution passed by commissioners Thursday, Apex is making an additional “service payment ... which shall not exceed the equivalent of $2,000 per (megawatt)” over the life of the project.

In a separate resolution, commissioners agreed that “no later than 12 months after the commencement of construction of the project, (Apex) shall make a service payment of $750,000 to the county general fund.”

Apex has said construction will begin once all agreements and state requirements are met and confirmed.

Solar fields of 50 MW or greater come under the purview of the Ohio Power Siting Board, while those of 49 MW or less do not, according to the OPSB.

Dalton Carr, Apex senior development manager, has said in previous presentations with commissioners that the 49-MW project is large enough to qualify as a sound investment while avoiding the potential delays and the “lengthy process” of gaining OPSB approval.

He estimated 100 construction jobs would be created including two field engineering/maintenance persons, and that power produced would be sold “on the grid” and not for any specific dedicated user.

The City of Bryan, the Village of Montpelier and Millcreek-West Unity Schools are local entities that currently have solar fields online.

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