By Amanda Ensinger
At a recent board meeting, a Prairie Township resident voiced concerns over a planned solar farm project near Prairie and Pleasant townships.
“There is nothing farm like about an industrial scale solar plant,” said Scott Newbury. “A lot of people have said they don’t want this project.”
According to township leadership, they have not been involved in the project, nor do have they had any say over it.
“We are in close proximately to the project and would like to get more information about it,” said Rob Peters, township administrator. “We would like to see what the total impact of the project will be. We have continually requested information and not received anything.”
The project is for a 250 mega-watt 1,700-acre solar farm that would stretch across Prairie and Pleasant townships. The company in charge of the project is Invenergy.
“This project is larger than the airport and larger than downtown Columbus,” Newbury said. “My parcel is adjacent to this development site and the impact it is going to have on our property values is significant. We are trying to clean up the township, not bring stuff like this here. Especially when there are homes so close to this project.”
According to project managers, four separate parcels of land make up the project. Most of the land is south of West Broad Street on farmland east of Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park near Galloway.
The solar panels would rotate during the day to stay with the sun, absorbing as much light as possible.
Over 200 residents would be impacted by this project, according to Newbury. As well as a variety of animals, insects and natural habitats.
“We need the township trustees to advocate for us and intervene as needed,” Newbury said. “We need you to also safeguard the environment, the animals that will be displaced and anyone else impacted by this project.”
Newbury added that it is the local leaders responsibility to mitigate the impacts of this project, including coming up with a solution for where the coyote, deer and other animals will go when their land is taken away.
Organizers of the project said they want to work with the community and be as transparent as possible.
“My job is to provide outreach on the project and speak with residents about questions they have,” said Geoff Patterson with Invenergy. “I have made hundreds of calls to residents and will continue to have conversations with residents about questions they have.”
Josh Hreha of Invenergy added that they are taking seriously any environmental impacts the project may have.
“We are doing ecological studies to look at all of this,” Hreha said.
If the project moves forward, the land-lease agreement would allow the project to operate for 45 years.