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Glass farm to be solar farm

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A 2.5 megawatt solar farm will be built on the Village-owned Glass Farm, Village Council decided at its April 19 meeting.

Council approved 5–0 the first reading of legislation to enter into a 20-year contract with SolarVision, LLC in which the Westerville company would finance, construct, own and maintain solar facilities on Village land and the Village would agree to purchase the power for $0.07 per kilowatt hour for the first 10 years. Contract details will be negotiated before May 3, when the second reading and public hearing for the proposed ordinance will take place.

Council members decided in a 5–0 vote that the Glass Farm was the best location since the property is near the Village electric substation, the Village would be able to use a $500,000 solar licensing fee from SolarVision for its general fund, and because the owners of the previously-considered Fogg property indicated in an e-mail that their property would not be optimal.

“To the owners of the Fogg property, a solar project has never made much sense financially,” land spokesman Rick Donahoe wrote in an e-mail to Village Manager Mark Cundiff earlier this month.

“This is a total win for the Village,” said Council President Judith Hempfling at the meeting. “Clean energy, we get the money…and it’s exactly what we’ve been committed to — renewables.”

The panels would cover approximately 15 acres on the western edge of the 43-acre Glass Farm, with about five additional acres for infrastructure and a gravel access road off of Yellow Springs-Fairfield Road, said Jeremy Champman of MeLink — which would design and procure the panels — after the meeting. The conservation area and detention pond on the eastern portion of the property, about 14 acres, is protected in an easement held by the Village and would not be disturbed by the project, Cundiff said.

The proposed size of the solar array was increased at the meeting to 2.5 megawatts from 2.0 megawatts to account for the conversion of the direct-current power produced by the panels to the alternating-current power the Village delivers to its electric power customers.

The size, which was recommended by American Municipal Power, the Village’s municipal power provider, will be finalized once a electric load-flow study currently underway by MK Power Solutions is completed. That study will also look at upgrading the Village substation at SolarVision’s cost, estimated at nearly $500,000, once the company completes an independent analysis.

Public utility consultants Countney & Association previously reviewed the SolarVision proposal for the village, concluding that the project would help meet the Village’s peaking electric power needs and diversify its power portfolio while having a minimal impact on the Village’s power supply costs. The consultants also detemined that it made more sense for the Village to purchase power from private developers rather than developing the solar farm itself.

Because the panels need to come on line by the end of 2011 to ensure financing, Village staff and Council have been moving quickly to review the proposal. At the meeting Council member Karen Wintrow expressed her frustration with the process, while several people lamented that other options weren’t considered.

See the April 28 News for other items of Council business.

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