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Australian company, Lendlease, has been approaching landowners in the rural area between Yellow Springs, Clifton and Cedarville for longterm leases to build a 175-megawatt utility-scale solar array. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

On Dec. 15, the Ohio Power Siting Board denied the application of Vesper Energy to build a 175-megawatt solar photovoltaic array on 1,500 acres of farmland spanning Miami, Cedarville and Xenia townships. (Photo by Megan Bachman)

Kingwood solar project application denied

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The Ohio Power Siting Board, or OPSB, has denied the application of Texas-based Vesper Energy to establish the 1,500-acre Kingwood solar project in Greene County.

The OPSB presented its ruling at a Thursday, Dec. 15 meeting — its final meeting of the year — stating that the planned 175-megawatt, utility-scale solar field “does not satisfy R.C. 4906.10(A)(6), which requires that, in order to receive Board certification, a project must serve the public interest, convenience, and necessity.”

In a document later posted by the OPSB to its website, the board wrote that it had considered the opinions of local governments and the public in its deliberations. The board cited resolutions of opposition to the project passed by Miami, Cedarville and Xenia townships and Greene County in late 2021, as well as public comments from residents.

“Public comments … reflect opposition to the project at a ratio of approximately three to one,” according to the document.

The Kingwood Solar project has been in development since 2017, when Vesper Energy began reaching out to the owners of area agricultural land to secure potential 43-year leases. The company filed its application for the project with the state in April 2021. 

According to past News reporting, about 1,000 acres of the planned total 1,500 to be taken up by Kingwood solar would be located on unincorporated agricultural land inside the borders of Miami Township. 

In addition to passing a resolution to oppose the project in 2021, the Miami Township Board of Trustees filed to be intervenors in opposition to the project before the OPSB,  citing the “prime soils” on the land planned for solar development and its proximity to Glen Helen, John Bryan State Park and Clifton Gorge as being among its reasons for opposition to the project.

In November 2021, the OPSB held a public hearing to make the final determination about whether to greenlight the proposed array. Around 300 people showed up to the hearing, which lasted nearly five-and-a-half hours. Most of those present were opposed to the project, but supporters spoke as well. 

Concerns about the project included environmental impact; noise during construction and operation; appearance; the effects of harsh weather events; and negative interactions with Vesper officials that have prompted distrust.

Supporters stressed the environmental benefits of green energy; financial benefits to landowners; tax benefits; and the expectation that landowners be allowed to use their properties as they choose.

Following the public hearing, the OPSB originally scheduled the Kingwood case’s final hearing for December 2021; that hearing was pushed back until March 2022, with the OPSB originally expecting to make a ruling on the case by summer.

Vesper Energy will have 30 days to appeal the OPSB’s ruling and request that the application be reconsidered in a second hearing. If the application is denied a second time, the company may bring their case before the Ohio Supreme Court. 

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