community solar project

Community solar project takes another step forward

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future just got a little brighter for the proposed community solar project in Bowling Green. On Monday, Bowling Green City Council had the first reading of an ordinance authorizing an easement and lease agreement for between the city and Wood County. Earlier this year, the Wood County Commissioners entered an agreement with the city to allow 50 acres of county land to be studied as a potential site for a solar field. The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities also agreed to allow 20 acres of its neighboring land to be part of the project. The 70 acres sit on the north side of East Gypsy Lane Road, between Interstate 75 and Wood Lane facilities. The property is currently leased for farming. Last week, the Bowling Green Board of Public Utilities approved the agreement now before council. The agreement is for a three-year lease option and does not commit the city to taking any action or spending any funds. Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell explained that having the property under a lease option would allow the city to have more detailed discussions with solar developers. “This is meant to be a community project,” Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of Bowling Green Public Utilities, said during a meeting with the county commissioners earlier this year. “Everybody is talking about doing their best to make this succeed.” Both of those entities have already shown strong support for solar power, by backing the city’s solar field on Carter and Newton roads. That field, at 165 acres, is the largest solar field in Ohio. Bowling Green gets a portion of the power generated at that solar field – enough to supply nearly 5 percent of the city’s energy needs. This new project, on East Gypsy Lane, would be different in that it could be a community solar field, which means city residents and businesses could sign up to be a part of the project and get electricity from the kilowatts generated at the solar field, according to O’Connell. All of the energy created at the proposed site could be used to power Bowling Green. The community field could produce up to 10 megawatts, which is about half of the power generated at the Carter Road site. The panels would likely rotate with the sun during the day to maximize the energy generated. The “community solar” concept is a growing trend across the nation, according to O’Connell. Bowling Green residents and businesses could sign up to be part of the project – on a purely voluntary basis. Bowling Green officials have been looking for open space for more solar panels. “Peaking energy is important to us,” O’Connell said earlier this year. “We’re looking for new ways to do more solar. But finding large parcels of property close to the city is difficult.” Then the city found that big chunk of land right in its backyard – and close to its city electric service. “This would be an ideal location for this,” Stockburger said. The agreement with the county commissioners gives the city up to three years to determine if the East Gypsy Lane site is an economically sound location for a community solar field, Stockburger said earlier this year. “If the numbers all work out,…


One manufacturer expanding, another one moving to BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green officials approved the sale of acreage to one local industry looking to expand and to another looking to move here from Cincinnati. The Board of Public Utilities on Monday evening voted to support the transfer of 1.56 acres to Vehtek, located on the east side of the city in the Woodbridge Industrial Park. “They have a large amount of racking to store items in the parking lot,” said Brian O’Connell, director of the city’s public utilities. “This is going to be a big help to solve a parking problem.” Vehtek, with approximately 700 employees, is one of Bowling Green’s largest employers. The company has plans to add another 50 employees. The company wants to buy two parcels west of the plant. Several employees already have to park in the grass during their shifts. “They definitely have a need for additional parking,” O’Connell said. The fire chief has had continuing concerns about employee and plant safety. Plans call for an improved right-of-way on East Poe Road, with the addition of a culvert crossing over the Poe Road ditch, along with widening a portion of Poe Road. These improvements will allow better truck access into and out of the facility. For the right-of-way widening, Sue Clark, director of Bowling Green’s economic development office, has been working with the state to secure Ohio Department of Transportation funds for 75 percent of the improvements. Normally the city would fund the other 25 percent of the project, O’Connell said. However, the city is proposing that Vehtek pay $60,000 to the city for a strip of city property adjacent to the company’s northern property line. This will improve Vehtek’s ability to expand its site and make parking/storage improvements. “That parcel really has little value to anyone else besides Vehtek,” O’Connell said. On the southeast corner of the city, three acres will be sold to a new company moving from Cincinnati to the John Quinn Innovative Tech Park off Napoleon Road. The property will be sold for $26,000 per acre. According to Clark, the company plans to build an 18,000-square-foot manufacturing building. It currently has 10 employees, and plans on hiring 10 more by 2022. Also at Monday’s meeting, the public utilities board approved a solar project easement and lease agreement with the Wood County Commissioners and Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The city has been looking for more property for another solar array – this one for a community solar project. City officials are interested in the 70 acres sitting at the northeast corner of East Gypsy Lane Road and Interstate 75. The county commissioners office owns 50, and Wood Lane owns 20 acres. The board approved a land lease agreement for a solar development on the county property. The agreement is for a three-year lease option and does not commit the city to taking any action or spending any funds. O’Connell explained that having the property under a lease option would allow the city to have more detailed discussions with solar developers. The county currently leases the land for farming, and does not want to lose the revenue. So the solar agreement provides the county with a $300 per acre annual payment. “The county is agreeable to this three-year option lease,” O’Connell said.  


BG gets county lease option for community solar field

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green already has the largest solar field in Ohio. Now it’s working on building the largest community solar project in the state. If all goes as planned, this solar field will sit on 70 acres just west of Wood Lane, just north of East Gypsy Lane Road near Interstate 75. The project requires teamwork, since 50 acres are owned by the Wood County Commissioners, and 20 acres are owned by the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. This project is intended to be a “community solar project,” which means city residents and businesses could sign up to be a part of the project and get electricity from the kilowatts generated at the solar field, according to Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell. “It would allow you the lease of the output for a year,” said Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of the Bowling Green Public Utilities Department. That would make this project different from the 165-acre solar field recently constructed on city land at Carter and Newton roads. Bowling Green gets a portion of the power generated at that solar field – enough to supply nearly 5 percent of the city’s energy needs. By building a “community solar” project, all of the energy created at the proposed site could be used to power Bowling Green, O’Connell said. The East Gypsy Lane site is appealing because it is close to existing city facilities that can be tied into. There would be no need to build several miles of power poles and wires. “We have the infrastructure near there,” O’Connell said. The “community solar” concept is a growing trend across the nation, according to O’Connell. Bowling Green residents and businesses could sign up to be part of the project – on a purely voluntary basis. “Instead of putting solar on rooftops, this could be done at a lower cost,” O’Connell said. Bowling Green officials have been looking for open space for more solar panels. “Peaking energy is important to us,” O’Connell said Tuesday. “We’re looking for new ways to do more solar. But finding large parcels of property close to the city is difficult.” Then the city found that big chunk of land right in its backyard – and close to its city electric service. “This would be an ideal location for this,” Stockburger said. So on Tuesday, city officials asked the Wood County commissioners to give them a three-year lease option, which will allow the city to discuss the project with solar developers. “If you don’t have the land, they can’t give you an accurate price for the layout,” O’Connell said. The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities has already signed off on the lease option for its acreage. “We would be glad to move forward,” Commissioner Doris Herringshaw said about the county’s acreage. The agreement will be reviewed again by the county prosecutor’s office prior to it being signed. “Exciting change is in the air again,” Herringshaw said. “It’s a nice partnership,” Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said. Ideally, the acreage has room for enough solar panels to generate 10 megawatts of energy. The panels would likely rotate with the sun during the day to maximize the energy generated, O’Connell said. Bowling Green’s share of the power from the larger solar…