COLUMBUS, Ohio — On Thursday, Blossom Solar announced it has received unanimous approval for its construction permit from the Ohio Power Siting Board. Developed by Open Road Renewables, Blossom Solar is a 144 MW solar-powered electric generating facility that will be located north of Iberia in Washington Township, Morrow County. The facility is expected to begin construction as early as spring 2024 and is scheduled to come online by late 2025. The project will occupy up to 1,073 acres, which can be returned to farming after the 40-year life of the project.
The project will create hundreds of construction jobs and 80% of the workforce is required to be Ohio residents, according to the payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement, a taxing structure which was approved by the Morrow County Board of Commissioners last year. Under the PILOT, Blossom Solar will generate nearly $1.3 million to local taxing jurisdictions on an annual basis (over $50 million over the 40-year life of the project), without depreciation or the need for typical county services that most large investments require.
“We are pleased with this outcome and are excited to take our community partnership to the next phase,” said Rashay Khripunova, director of community relations for Open Road Renewables. “This is a fantastic step for the project, which will deliver home-grown, clean energy to the region and provide numerous benefits to our project landowners, Morrow County, Washington Township, local schools, and many other community services. We are grateful for support in the community.”
“I bought my farm and equipment for my sons to farm the land and recreate,” said Tom Cole, a local landowner. “A portion of our land will be used in the project while the rest will be preserved for them to farm, hunt, and one day potentially homestead. The revenue from the project will ensure long-term stable income to help fund future growth and opportunities for the next generation. We are proud to be partnered with a company who cares for and looks out for the interests of our family and land.”
“At first, our family was skeptical of the idea of a large solar farm in our community,” said John Eichler, an adjacent neighbor to the proposed project. “But the Open Road Renewables team took a lot of time to meet with us and address our concerns and has agreed to conditions that will protect our land and community. We recognize the difference a project like this will make for Morrow County and Washington Township.”
Through the approved PILOT, revenues from the project will support local tax jurisdictions where the project will be located, including, but not limited to, Morrow County, Washington Township, Northmor Local School District, joint vocational programs, health services and emergency services.
“The Open Road Renewables team has been great to work with, and we are excited to have approval for this project that will generate over $500,000 annually to our school district over the life of the project,” said Chad Redmon, superintendent of Northmor Local School District. “Although our school district is in good financial shape, this investment will bring considerable benefits that our district would otherwise only be able to attain through increased taxes/levies or other creative revenue streams. The lasting impact this will have on our community cannot be understated.”
“From the very beginning, the company took the time to meet with us and educate us on all the benefits this project will offer and has addressed every concern we’ve raised,” said the Morrow County Board of Commissioners. “We’re proud to be partnered with a company that has been so willing to engage our community and address our concerns.”
“Projects like this represent important career opportunities for our members. We are prepared with a skilled workforce and look forward to competing to get our members on site to build this project safely and on schedule,” said Scott Stevenson with the Ohio Operating Engineers, Local 18, and also a resident of Morrow County. “The influx of solar generating facilities in Ohio is proving to be a major local jobs driver and is putting our members to work closer to home, allowing them to travel less and enjoy dinner with their families in the evening.”
About Blossom Solar
In addition to the guaranteed annual revenue from the PILOT agreement, Open Road Renewables will also be making financial commitments to Washington Township, Iberia Voluntary Fire Department and other community groups. The project also plans to enter into a road use maintenance agreement (RUMA) with the Morrow County engineer that will ensure that roads are repaired once construction has been completed. Finally, Blossom Solar will be working with Pioneer Career Technology Center on a workforce development partnership that will help future generations of students in the area pursue careers in the skilled trades.
The construction permit approval includes a robust set of conditions that the project must follow and will ensure best-in-class construction practices for Blossom Solar. This includes considerable setbacks from public rights-of-way and homes, appropriate landscaping requirements along the project perimeter near homes and/or sensitive areas, and other measures that will protect the community and environment, such as wildlife friendly fencing, limited construction hours, transportation management plan, etc.
Additionally, the conditions require preconstruction soil testing and grading limitations, which will ensure that the ground can continue to be farmed at the end of the project’s life. Finally, the project will be required to post a bond prior to construction that will fully cover the cost to decommission the project at any time during the project life.
About Open Road Renewables
Open Road Renewables, LLC (“Open Road Renewables”) is a renewable energy company focused on development of utility-scale clean energy projects in the United States. Open Road Renewables’ highly experienced team is on a mission to make the promise of clean energy and economic security a reality for communities across the country. The Blossom Solar team developed the 200 MW Hillcrest Solar Project in Brown County, Ohio, and the 150 MW Willowbrook Solar Project in Highland County, Ohio, and is actively developing best-in-class solar projects across the state.
Submitted by Open Road Renewables.