Local Opposition to Solar Project Leads to Cancellation in Ohio
A 400-megawatt solar array planned for the village of Williamsport, Ohio has been canceled following strong opposition from local residents and elected officials. The canceled project will mean a loss of renewable energy as well as $3.6 million per year of tax revenue that would have gone back into the local community.
The project, called Chipmunk Solar, was developed by EDF Renewables. But local campaigning lead the company to formally withdraw its application in a filing on Thursday.
“While we were hopeful the project would come to fruition, the nature of development activities, which are sometimes out of our control, have forced us to make the difficult decision to no longer proceed,” EDF Renewables stated, as reported by Inside Climate News.
The Chipmunk Solar project had an estimated lifespan of about 30 years, during which it would have generated about $100 million in revenues for the local government. Much of the revenue was expected to go into public schools in this rural area. Property owners who offered to lease land for the project will also lose a total of around $3 million per year in lease payments.
The project initially seemed as though it would easily obtain approval and for construction to begin in the new year, with operations slated to begin in 2024 or 2025. Chipmunk Solar was expected to power about 75,000 homes. But opponents spread word to locals that the solar array would replace some of the local farmland and destroy the soil and water in the area. With these campaigns, local governments ended up passing resolutions against Chipmunk Solar.
An opinion letter written in local paper, the Circleville Herald, in September of 2022 by oppositional group Pickaway County Citizens Against Industrial Solar on Farmland Board of Directors primarily pointed out a sense of distrust in EDF Renewables and solar companies in general.
“To be clear, we don’t want another solar project here, regardless of their financials,” the letter stated.
This project is now one of the largest solar projects in the Midwest to have been canceled, and it follows two other solar projects in Ohio that were rejected because of local resistance to renewables.
Despite the withdrawn application for Chipmunk Solar, experts still expect to see a boom in renewable energy projects in Ohio, particularly as massive companies in the area try to meet their publicly announced sustainability targets. The key, though, will be for projects to earn support of local communities.
“Ohio is going to definitely be a top 10 state for renewables buildout through 2030,” Matthew Sahd, a solar analyst at research company Wood Mackenzie, told Inside Climate News. “It’s just going to be (a question of) which developers can stand the test of time and create those community ties early so that their projects can get through.”
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