SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — A large crowd packed Shawnee Alliance Church Tuesday night for updates on the latest efforts to fight Lightsource bp’s plans to build a 300-megawatt solar farm in parts of southern Allen and northern Auglaize counties.
The group, Against Birch Solar LLC, has been actively fighting the project.
Those against the project are concerned about the loss of property value, potential pollution if the glass solar panels leach lead and cadmium, and the overall loss of wildlife habitat.
They are also concerned the project is being located in a densely populated area and are concerned about Lightsource bp plans to use “Payment in Lieu of Taxes” or PILOT, if the project is approved.
“By our calculations, that without a PILOT agreement, our schools, our township, senior services, veteran services, could potentially see as much as twice the amount (of tax revenue) that Lightsource bp is claiming,” said Jim Thompson, organizer of Against Birch Solar LLC.
Lightsouce bp has yet to file permits with the Ohio Power Siting Board.
This is the group’s second major meeting. The first was in November.
“We’ve learned quite a bit in the last couple of months regarding the project and renewable energy projects in Ohio as a whole,” Thompson said.
Thompson shared a map of the growing number of solar projects that PJM Interconnection is currently studying for construction in Ohio. According to its website, PJM is a “regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia.”
“Many people think this Birch Solar project is a one and done type thing. In Allen and Auglaize counties, there’s eight other projects that are being planned or studied by PJM,” Thompson said. “Collectively, they’ll be much larger than the Birch Solar project. The Birch project might not affect you immediately. You might not be adjacent to it. However, there are more projects coming into the community.”
Against Birch Solar is planning another meeting from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6 at Apollo Career Center.
Invited guests include Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman and Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp.
Both are from Lima.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.