MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution on Thursday prohibiting the construction of large wind farms but allowing large-scale solar facilities.
The resolution applies to the unincorporated parts of the county.
Large-scale wind, also called utility scale, is defined as projects greater than 1 megawatt (MW). Large-scale solar is 50 MW and larger.
The commissioners will look at solar projects on a case-by-case basis.
“I think we all thought that wind was something the people would not want to see in Knox County,” Commissioner Teresa Bemiller said. “But it’s not come up as a viable topic.”
Bemiller said that at a public hearing in May, it seemed there were the same number of people for and against solar. By looking at solar project by project, residents can voice their opinions through public hearings and other processes.
“If we did not pass a resolution, we would have no say at all,” Commissioner Thom Collier said. “Again, these are large-scale. If someone wants to put a small windmill or solar on their property and go off the grid, they can do so.”
In evaluating utility-scale solar projects, the commissioners will specifically look at four criteria:
•The economic development potential of the proposed project.
•The ability to provide buffers between the facility and adjacent landowners.
•The opinion of landowners in the area.
•The effect of the facility on tax valuation in the area.
“We are worried about property rights and government overstep,” Commissioner Bill Pursel said. “The board wanted to have some safeguards in place to protect everybody.”
“Property rights are important, but also as we look at these projects, we can look at how they affect neighbors,” Bemiller said. “I think we all feel we have more control this way in looking at how everybody’s affected.”
The resolution takes effect in 30 days.
Three companies are interested in developing solar in Knox County: Frasier Solar, ibV Energy, and Apex Clean Energy. According to the Knox County recorder’s website, Frasier has about 1,054 acres under lease contracts and ibV has about 793. Search results show no contracts as yet for Apex.
In other county news:
•Columbia Gas should finish its work on the line leading to the Memorial Theater on Friday. Once Columbia Gas finishes its work, the porch renovations at 116 and 118 E. High St. can be completed.
•The annual River Rally, coordinated by Knox County Litter and Recycling, is set for Saturday, Sept. 10.
•Knox County Job & Family Services was involved in an eight-county national project on improving child workforce outcomes. A report is forthcoming.
•The commissioners approved a support letter for Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission to apply for a regional economic development district designation. The designation enables MORPC to apply for federal grants.