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Important News From PUCO/Ohio Power Siting Board

There has been some important news coming out of PUCO/Ohio Power Siting Board lately. Please feel free to copy/paste this information and forward to like minded individuals. We need to flood them with comments.


The first news involves the Ohio Power Siting Board's current staffing ceiling. Their ceiling for this fiscal year is 332 and there are 22 vacancies. If those 22 spots are filled, the staff levels will meet the 332 ceiling. OPSB proposes to increase staff levels for the next fiscal year beginning July 1st by 18 new positions. These positions will support a variety of functions. We see no reason why they will be denied this request.


Today’s most important news are further proposed changes to setback siting rules at OPSB. These proposed rules have been under consideration for some time. On January 18th, the OPSB invited comment on further modifications and we urge you to make time to file your position with respect to this recent rule revision. Comments can be filed at any time before the January 30 deadline and reply comments will be due February 6th. The Solar Setback proposal and invitation to comment is attached.

Currently, the proposed rule for solar setbacks states:

4906-4-09 Regulations associated with wind farms renewable energy generation facilities. For both an economically significant wind farm and a major utility facility consisting of windpowered electric generating units, the application shall state the applicant's commitment to comply with the following regulations and the board shall require that each of the following requirements be satisfied.

(G) The following are applicable to solar facility applications.

(4) Setbacks. The facility design is to incorporate a minimum setback from the project’s solar modules of (i) at least 150 feet from non-participating parcel boundaries, (ii) at least 300 feet from non-participating residences existing as of the application filing date, and (iii) at least 150 feet from the edge of pavement of any state, county, or township road within or adjacent to the project area.

The proposed revision reads:

4906-4-09 Regulations associated with wind farms renewable energy generation facilities.

(G) The following are applicable to solar facility applications.

(4) Setbacks. The facility design is to incorporate a minimum setback from the project’s solar modules of (i) at least 50 feet from non-participating parcel boundaries not containing a residence, (ii) at least 300 feet from non-participating residences existing as of the application filing date, and (iii) at least 150 feet from the edge of pavement of any state, county, or township road within or adjacent to the project area, unless otherwise agreed to by an authorized government representative with authority over a state, county, or township road or a waiver is granted.

We believe the proposed revision to solar setbacks should be vigorously opposed. Setbacks which are only 50 feet from a neighbor’s property line are inadequate and fail to acknowledge that while there may not be a building on the parcel, the neighboring land may have other uses or features. The neighboring land may be an organic farm. Elsewhere in the regulations is a requirement that the developer must prevent the establishment and propagation of noxious weeds “including in setback areas”. ** This could mean that chemicals could be sprayed up to a neighboring property line and perhaps even into the neighbor’s yard if a home is on the land and the setback is measured from the side of the neighbor’s home instead of the property line.

There could be other uses on neighboring land which have not been contemplated. If the landowner decides to plant trees, could they grow over 30 or 40 years to create shade on the solar facility? Can 50 feet adequately protect against run-off from the solar facility? Included in today’s issue is a report on soiling which states: “A new report by the International Energy Agency’s Photovoltaic Power Systems Programme (IEA-PVPS) estimates that lost revenue from PV module soiling amounts to more than €3 billion ($4.6 billion) per year – an amount that is only set to increase as PV systems grow larger and more efficient.” Would dust from a neighboring farm operation soil panels which are fifty feet away? Would the solar facility operator bring an action against the neighboring landowner for losses incurred by dust and dirt during planting and harvesting?

These are just some ideas and you may have others of your own. Certainly, the value of the neighboring land as a future homesite would be diminished or destroyed if a solar facility was only 50 feet from the property line. We believe that setbacks from property lines must remain at 150 feet and that landowners should have the option to grant a waiver of setback if they wish - as is the current practice with wind.

We encourage everyone to write a comment letter protesting the reduction of the property line setback for utility-scale solar to 50 feet from the original version of 150 feet.

[** Proposed 4906-4-09 (3) (e) requires that:

(e) The Applicant shall prevent the establishment and propagation of noxious weeds identified in Ohio Adm.Code Chapter 901:5-37 in the project, including its setback areas, during construction, operation, and decommissioning via procedures and processes specified and required by the project’s vegetation plan. The Applicant shall provide annual proof of weed control for the first four years of operation, with the goal of weed eradication significantly completed by year three of operation.]



Solar Setback Proposal
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