Writer questioning possible solar power facilities


To the best of my knowledge, many Preble County residents are not aware that Alamo Solar I, LLC (a subsidiary of Open Roads Renewables, LLC) is seeking board approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board for of an 89.9 megawatt solar electric generating facility to be located within approximately 720 acres of privately owned land in Gasper and Washington Townships in Preble County, approximately 2 miles south of Eaton, north of Woodland Trails Boy Scout Camp and east of the Lake Lakengren community.

In addition, Angelina Solar I, LLC (another subsidiary of Open Road Renewables, LLC) is also seeking approval from the Ohio Power Siting Board for an 80-megawatt solar electric generating facility located in approximately 800 acres within Israel and Dixon Townships, approximately 4 miles north of College Corner and Hueston Woods State Park.

Just to clarify and to understand the scope of these solar electric generating facilities trying to become home in Preble County, an acre of land is approximately the size of a football field. These proposed solar facilities will take 1,500 plus acres out of agricultural production even though this land has been zoned for agriculture. That is the size of 1,500 football fields. If approved for construction, this will certainly be the first of more to come.

While I appreciate the fact that solar energy is a renewable energy source, there are some serious concerns with these projects. After looking over the application for the Alamo Solar project to the Ohio Power Siting Board on the Ohio Public Utilities Commission website under case number 18-1578-EL-BGN, the schedule for the development of these projects began in 2016.

So, why has the public not been informed properly? Why haven’t these privately-owned subsidiaries been transparent about these large solar electric generating facilities coming into Preble County? Could it be that these solar facilities detrimentally impact the property values of those living around these solar facilities? This includes the home owners in the Lakengren community.

The Alamo solar facility will be located next to Lakengren’s east side. Would you want to buy or sell a home in the proximity of a solar facility? Would you get the monetary value of what your home was worth prior to solar electric facility construction? Could it be that folks in rural Preble County might get concerned that prime agriculture farm land will permanently be lost because it will be turned into these large solar electric generating facilities? These are just a few reasons I can come up with to understand why these projects have been hush-hush.

In addition, should we consider the weather we experience in southwest Ohio when it comes to this type of solar electric generating facility? If we take 2018’s wet spring and very wet fall into account and the amount of rain we received, what impact will these solar facilities have on storm water runoff? Will pollutants such as lead and other carcinogens be washed out of the solar modules and find there way to our ground water? Will the runoff make its way to Lake Lakengren, the lake at Woodland Trails, Acton Lake and its watersheds? What would happen in the event of a tornado or high winds that comes through and destroys these solar modules made of glass? Would these shards of glass be washed away downstream? Would these private owned subsidiaries have any incentive to clean up the aftermath since these projects are not mandated by the state of Ohio?

Not only that, what happens to our wild life in these areas? Woodland Trails and Hueston Woods is a mainly wooded area that is prime habitat for deer, coyotes, wild turkeys, geese, ducks and other animals that rely on agriculture acreage for food. A solar panel facility in this area will take away too much agricultural ground and these animals will be looking for food in the remaining farms, destroying crops and killing farm animals. These are just a few of the negative impacts a solar electric facility of this size will have on our land.

I would encourage the community to go to the Ohio Power Siting Board website, subscribe to both the Angelina and Alamo cases to receive updates on the stage of these projects. I, also, strongly encourage the community to submit letters of impact as an individual and also as a citizen, community member of Preble County, explaining your concerns and submit those to Ohio Power Siting Board.

If you are not certain how you may be impacted or what your rights are, members of the Ohio Farm Bureau, can reach out to Dale Arnold, Director of Energy, Utility and Local Government Policy for Ohio Farm Bureau. Dale is a great resource to gather knowledge about your rights and impact related to energy in rural areas. The Ohio Power Siting Board can also answer questions regarding your rights.

Beware Preble County residents and our neighbors outside of Preble County. You will wake up one morning and look out your window only to find your surrounded by solar electric generating panels.

Karen Hamilton