June 20, 2024

Signs in the Great Bend area where a solar field is supposed to be built.

RACINE, Ohio – A solar company is proposing to use farmland in the Great Bend and Letart Falls areas for solar fields with little community support. Signs can be seen around the areas saying, “No Solar.”

Doral LLC is planning to utilize 376 acres of property near the Ravenswood Bridge along US 33 for one area and throughout Letart Falls for the other. According to the company’s website, “Great Bend Solar is a utility-scale solar PV project located in Meigs County, southeastern Ohio. This 370-acre project will be Doral Renewables’ first project in Ohio and second project in operations.”

The issue for those opposing the solar project is not the project itself, but the location. Both locations are owned by AEP. AEP is not looking to do the projects themselves, but is leasing out the property to Doral. In both locations, prime farmland will be turned into solar fields. Why not another area that does not have such rich soil for farming?

According to the Data Basin, both areas are considered “nationally significant agriculture land.” The area has been farmed since the time of Native Americans.

“I’m not so much opposed to the project as I am the location,” Meigs County Commissioner Jimmy Will said.

Previously, the properties were possible sites of other economic developments. The area near the Ravenswood Bridge was being looked at for a truck stop, restaurant and related businesses. The issue for the development was water. Without the possibility of public water, the plan failed to move forward. The other area was a possible gas power plant in the Letart Falls area. Many homes in the area were purchased and even torn down. That project fell through with changes in energy production and environmental standards.

Dural representatives have attempted to meet with Letart Township Trustees and area residents. The Meigs Independent Press was informed the meeting ended with representatives from Doral basically being pushed out the door.

Doral has also been meeting with the Meigs County Commissioners, which has not gone well either.

“The fact that anyone especially AEP is ok leasing nationally historic farmland to become a solar field is absurd,” said Commissioner Will, “It’s all about money – the company, Doral, doesn’t care about anything here in Meigs County. I have met the company men a couple times and will probably never see them again here. Nothing will change with our energy bills either. There is very little benefit to Meigs County in my opinion. There will be some commercial tax monies come in through the project, but personally I do not believe it’s worth the trade off.”

Doral states on their website, it would be beneficial to the region. “During its lifespan, the Great Bend Solar project will provide over $400,000 per year of new annual tax revenue to Meigs County, create jobs and economic growth opportunities to local businesses. The project has executed a long-term power purchase agreement with a major offtaker and secured the financing for its construction. This shovel-ready project is located in PJM’s transmission system. Great Bend Solar is expected begin construction during 2024 and to come online by the end of 2025,” according to Doral’s description of the project.

In a statement from April 16, Doral has hired PCL to do the construction. “PCL Construction is pleased to announce it has been awarded the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) works for Great Bend Solar, a 48-megawatt alternating current (MWac) turn-key solar solution being developed by Doral Renewables in Meigs County, Ohio. This project marks the first collaboration between Doral Renewables, a leader in renewable energy, and PCL, whose U.S. solar portfolio includes more than $1.5 billion in solar projects across Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Oregon, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Washington,” read the statement.

“PCL is a group of independent construction companies that operates throughout the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Australia,” according to the PCL website.

Great Bend Solar is project number 16 for PCL, according to the statement. “Upon completion, this project will increase PCL’s completed and active EPC portfolio in the United States to over 2 gigawatts direct current (GWdc) of solar power, enough to power 500,000 households and businesses. To date, PCL has been selected to lead solar projects worth more than $4.2 billion USD, including photovoltaic solar facilities, battery energy storage systems and substations across the United States, Canada and Australia.”

The main office for Doral is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. PCL North American Headquarters is in Alberta, Canada.

“There will be no permanent job creation either,” Commissioner Will added, “There are hundreds of acres of strip mine owned AEP land on the west end of the county, and a hill top of brush above the Great Bend that would be better suited for the solar project.”

Residents wishing to make comments concerning the project can contact AEP located at 1 Riverside Plaza, Columbus, Ohio 43215. Their phone number is 614-716-1000. Emails may be sent through this link by clicking here.

Signs in the Great Bend area where a solar field is supposed to be built.