It appears the 49-megawatt solar field proposed for 500 acres in Jefferson Township is on hold.
The county and the company making the proposal, Charlottesville, Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy, are several million dollars apart on financial terms, county commissioner Terry Rummel told fellow commissioners March 25.
On Feb. 8, Apex unveiled its formal proposal for a solar field for an 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.
Dalton Carr, Apex senior development manager, said at the time he was seeking approval from the county of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that defines setbacks and sets design standards and pre-construction requirements for the project.
He told commissioners he also was seeking county approval of a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement. The PILOT agreement would set a specific, dedicated revenue stream of $7,000 per megawatt per year to various entities in the county within the boundaries of the project for the 40-year lifetime of the project.
The PILOT would produce $343,000 annually, “and ensures a (dedicated) revenue stream for the life of the project,” Carr said.
The county, however, is seeking $9,000 per kilowatt hour. The difference amounts to about $3 million over the life of the contract, Rummel said March 25.
“... We are thinking they need to come in at $9,000. There is just no money in it there for the county at $7,000. It would pay the existing taxes and keep everyone whole, but there are some risks that go along with it,” Rummel said.
“When you look at the difference between $7,000 and $9,000 per kilowatt hour, $9,000 is about $3 million over 30 years. So, they don’t know that they can get the project off the ground without it and we don’t know that it gives much value to us to sign the MOU and things without it. So, we are kind of at a stalemate,” Rummel said.
Friday, Rummel said the issue is in negotiations between the legal representatives of the county and Apex, and he doesn’t think the issue will be resolved in the short term.
Carr, when asked for comment, deferred to Drew Christensen, Apex’s public engagement manager. Christiansen did not directly address The Bryan Times‘ questions on the financial negotiations, but in a prepared statement emphasized the project would create enough power for 10,000 houses and create new revenue for the county, townships and schools.
“We appreciate our productive work relationship with the commissioners and look forward to continuing our conversations regarding an agreement that benefits the county, schools and landowners,” Christensen said.
Solar fields of 50 megawatts or greater come under the purview of the Ohio Power Siting Board, while those of 49 megawatts or less do not, according to the OPSB. Carr said 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.