Ohio regulators set public hearing for proposed solar farm on Bill Gates property
State regulators have scheduled a public hearing in Madison County on what would be one of the largest solar farms in the country on land owned mostly by Bill Gates.
The Ohio Power Siting Board, the state agency that oversees new sources of power generation in the state. has set a hearing for 5 p.m. on April 11 at Jonathan Alder High School in Plain City to allow people to testify about the proposed Oak Run Solar Project.
The project, being developed by Kansas City, Missouri-based renewable energy company Savion, involves an 800-megawatt solar farm, a 300-megawatt energy storage system and a 3.5 mile-long electric transmission line in Monroe, Somerford and Deercreek townships. The project would be built north of London near Plumwood.
The project would consist of solar panel arrays and associated facilities on about 4,400 acres across a 6,050-acre project area.
Construction could start before the end of the year and the solar farm would come online in chunks beginning potentially as soon as the end of 2025, according to Siting Board documents.
It is one of nearly 50 solar farms either in operation in the state or some stage of development.
Most of the parcels of land for the project belong to Midwest Farms.
Property records don't directly link Gates, the cofounder of Microsoft, to the farmland. County records show Midwest Farms LLC of Monterey, Louisiana, is the actual owner of the farmland.
Midwest Farms bought more than 5,000 acres for $27.1 million in 2009, The Dispatch reported at the time. Additional land was acquired in 2018 for more than $2 million. Other documents and media accounts do make the connection, and Madison County officials have said it's common knowledge that Gates is the owner.
Separately, the Siting Board has scheduled an evidentiary hearing on the project for 10 a.m. on May 15 at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio offices in Columbus. During the evidentiary hearing, the applicant, siting board staff, and others will provide expert testimony and evidence regarding the facilities.
The Siting Board already has received more than 200 comments on the project.
Additional information about the project is available at the Siting Board's website.
The case number for the solar and batter facilities is 22-0549-EL-BGN and 22-0550-EL-BTXfor the transmission line.
Comments can be filed online at the siting board website.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Proposed solar farm would be among the nation's biggest