The OPSB denied the application filed by Birch Solar 1, LLC to construct a 300 MW solar facility in Shawnee Township in Allen County and Logan Township in Auglaize County. The OPSB found that, based on the unanimous and consistent opposition to the project by local governments whose constituents are impacted by the project, the proposed project would fail to serve the “public interest, convenience, and necessity” as required by Ohio law.
OPSB noted that all four local governments (township trustees from Shawnee and Logan Townships along with both Allen County and Auglaize County Commissioners opposed the project) in the Birch Solar project area opposed its approval and that the lack of local government support for the project remained consistent before and after the OPSB technical staff issued a report in October 2021 recommending that the OPSB deny the project.
At their public hearing 59 witnesses testified under oath and subject to the right of cross examination, with 21 witnesses supporting the Project, and 38 persons opposing the Project. The witnesses testifying in opposition to the Project raised various concerns, including, but not necessarily limited to: the Project’s impact to the viewshed; the alleged lack of local input regarding the Project, and the long-term impact on local property values; doubts as to the number and quality of construction jobs and permanent employees; dangers of solar facilities attributable to chemical use and panel attachment; concerns that the Project’s power will not be locally used; concerns for preserving the rural, rather than industrial, character of the community; and, impacts to wildlife. Moreover, we note that two local elected officials, Allen County Commissioner Cory Noonan and Shawnee Township Trustee David Belton, testified under oath in opposition to the Project.