This is the first part of a 3-part series aimed at zooming in on the possibility of solar panels coming to Ashland County. Look for parts two and three on Aug. 21 and 22.
ASHLAND — Ashland County commissioners continue to mull over the option of allowing a company to place solar panels atop an abandoned land fill along County Road 1754.
“Right now the project is on the back burner,” said Mike Welch, president of the Ashland County Board of Commissioners.
Meanwhile, residents are clamoring for clarity and expressing opposition.
To refresh, a representative from CEP Renewables approached commissioners in March to propose the installation of a 15 megawatt array of solar panels at the landfill. The dump site has been inactive since November 1997.
CEP claims the implementation of solar panels on the site would produce anywhere from $61,000 to $91,500 per year in lease revenue over a 20-year term. The solar field could also produce another $105,000 annually in property tax revenue.
The landfill mounds are enveloped by Byers Woods, a 215-acre park owned by the Ashland County Parks District. It also happens to host the bobolink, a “high priority” species by the Ohio Bird Conservation Initiative, and other wildlife.
Ashland County Parks District commissioners have expressed opposition, one of them calling the plan “hideous.”
In early August, Ashland County resident Ginny Telego addressed commissioners during one of their public meetings. She expressed opposition to the proposal and asked several questions.
She also said more than 500 people have signed a petition opposing the proposal.
Welch answered a few questions as Telego uttered them, emphasizing the project would return around $4 million back to the county over the 20-year lease period.
“At minimal,” he said. “That money would go to the general fund.”
Telego thanked Welch for his answer and said she was merely conveying questions she’s heard from out in the community.
“I’m sure we can all think of projects in the county that that money could go towards. We’re just not really excited about having the project be at Byers Woods,” she said.
Welch said he understands, but that the project is not “at Byers Woods.”
“It’s on landfill, owned by the county commissioners,” he said.
Telego said she understood that, but that the landfill is surrounded by a park.
“That’s right. And that land was with the county commissioners before (leasing it to the Ashland County Parks District in 2006),” Welch said. “I would hope the residents realize that.”
Watch the entire exchange between Telego and commissioners in this video. It starts at the 16:10 mark and ends at the 33:48 mark.