Sunny views on solar farm in Mahoning County
Company, couple promote proposed $150M project
GREEN — Wayne and Sara Greier of Washingtonville Road in Green Township have been in talks with Texas company Alpin Sun for about three years about the company leasing 675 acres of their 975-acre farm to build a $150 million solar power-generating farm.
The installation would generate up to 150 megawatts of electricity, and it represents a $150 million investment that would create 150 jobs during construction, according to an Alpin Sun information sheet.
The installation, which would be called Matador Solar, would provide “buffer zones of green space and planting trees and other vegetation between the solar panels and public view where needed for screening and to provide habitat for local wildlife,” the sheet states.
The Mahoning County commissioners are considering whether to ban large solar- and wind power-generating facilities from locating in Green Township.
The Green Township trustees approved a resolution in May asking for the ban, which is allowed under Ohio’s Senate Bill 52, approved by the General Assembly in October 2021.
The Alpin Sun project would be located in Green and Beaver townships, according to a letter from Alpin Sun received by the Mahoning County commissioners Sept. 18.
“We strongly believe this area is suitable for a solar project, and we are interested in developing it,” the letter states.
The company has developed four gigawatts of solar projects in Texas, Virginia and Ohio covering about 60,000 acres, the letter states.
The county commissioners had a public hearing in their meeting room Sept. 18 and will hold a second hearing at 6 p.m. Oct. 30 at Greenford Christian Church, 11767 Lisbon Road in Greenford to hear more input from residents.
The Greiers and the information sheet state that a wood fence will be installed around the project instead of the industry standard chain-link fencing.
The sheet states that the project will generate $41 million in new tax revenue to local schools and other public services over the life of the project, including $1.4 million the first year.
Wayne Greier spoke at the first hearing about the health problems he has had in recent years because of contracting COVID-19 and spending 80 days in the hospital. He said he and his wife, Sarah, are at a “tipping point as to whether I have to sell off the family farm” because of the financial issues that have arisen because of his illness.
Sarah Greier spoke to the county commissioners at last week’s meeting.
Wayne Greier told The Vindicator afterward that one of the words he heard attributed to renewable-energy projects at the Sept. 18 meeting was “eyesore.” That’s how Green Township Trustee Mark Stepuk described how many Green Township residents view such projects.
Wayne Greier said the “green barrier” that Alpin Sun will create around the project on his property “will be no different from looking at a tree farm when you drive past it.”
The trees will be only about 6 feet tall to start, he noted. “It takes a few years for them to grow and bush out.”
Greier said some people have complained that renewable energy projects in Green Township would cause the loss of agricultural land, but Greier said he would still plan to “farm sheep, probably up to 2,000 head of sheep.”