Ohio approves largest solar project in the state

The Ohio Power Siting Board’s (OPSB) has approved the Oak Run Solar Project, an 800 MW solar + storage + agrivoltaics facility in Madison County. The project represents the largest solar power generation facility approved to date in the Buckeye State with an expected cost of $1 billion.

In addition to the 800 MW of solar generation, Oak Run Solar will also feature a 300 MW battery energy storage system. Located in Madison County, north of London, near Plumwood, Ohio, the project also represents the largest agrivoltaic project in Ohio history, dedicating 6,000 acres on the Central Ohio project site to growing commercial crops between the solar panel rows.

Developed by Kansas City, Missouri-based Savion Energy through Oak Run Solar Project LLC, the project is expected to generate economic benefits to the host townships, school districts and Madison County: 

  • An estimated $250 million in tax revenue for Madison County over project’s estimated 35-year operational life.
  • Several hundred new Madison County construction jobs during the 4- to 8-year construction phase. 
  • Dozens of new long-term jobs in Madison County during the project’s operating phase. 

Savion is a Shell Group portfolio company operating on a standalone basis and focusing on utility-scale solar and energy storage project development in the United States, with a portfolio of more than 41.5 GW.

The Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) applauded the OPSB’s approval of the Oak Run Solar project, having joined the case as an intervening party and provided expert testimony from Dr. Jeffrey Reutter, retired director of The Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant College Program and Stone Lab, explaining the benefits this project provides to mitigating climate change and harmful stormwater runoff. Reutter estimated nutrient and soil runoff will be cut by 50% based on the vegetation management practices planned for the project site.  

Nolan Rutschilling, OEC managing director of energy policy, lauded the project’s potential impact on Ohio’s clean energy future.

“The Ohio Power Siting Board’s decision to approve Oak Run Solar is a huge win for clean renewable energy in our state. Oak Run Solar is a testament to Ohio’s legacy of working at the forefront of innovation, this time on tackling climate change,” Rutschilling said. “The OPSB’s approval of Oak Run Solar will bring innovative energy and agriculture solutions to Ohio. Utility scale solar and battery energy storage are critical components of achieving Ohio’s clean energy future. As climate change continues to disrupt Ohio’s agriculture practices and yields, the practice of agriculture in tandem with solar panels represents a unique and bold opportunity to act on climate. We look forward to these innovations the Oak Run project will bring to Ohio.”

According to the Columbus Dispatch, part of the Oak Run Solar project site will sit on farmland owned by billionaire and former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. Of the total 6,050 acres needed for project, about 4,400 acres are owned by Gates’ Midwest Farms LLC.

The 800 MW of power to be generated by the project is more than twice that of any other project approved by the OPSB, according to the Dispatch. The board voted 7-2 in favor of the project, with the two opposing votes being cast by a Madison County commissioner and a township trustee. The Oak Run project faced vocal opposition from Madison County locals.

However, local union officials praised the project, which is estimated to create 1,500 construction jobs.

The Dispatch quoted Aaron Brown, renewable energy and government affairs representative of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 4th District, who said of the project: “We are diversifying our grid and powering our communities. Solar energy is proving to be a tremendous shot in the arm for many rural Ohio communities, and it’s exciting to be a part of this progress.”

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