About the Birch solar farm
Farms are where crops are harvested. And solar is just a different type of harvest. The Birch solar farm, located about 10 miles southwest of Lima, will do more than generate clean energy for Ohio. It will create local jobs by attracting thriving businesses to the area, conserve the area’s flora and fauna, reduce pollution and emissions, and provide a diversified source of income for farmers in the community who are leasing their own property, enabling them to maintain their land for future generations.
Support your local farmers
In order for the Birch solar project to move forward, the Ohio Power Siting Board must grant permission. As part of this permitting process, OPSB collects public comments from Ohioans who want to share their thoughts on the project. If you want clean energy for Ohio and want to support Ohio farmers who are leasing out their private land for solar development in order to support their income with reliable revenue, it’s important the board hears from you.
Once built, the farm will be a secure site with little disturbance. This gives the land a recovery period, increasing future soil quality and land value.
The emission-free power generated from the Birch solar farm will help diversify Ohio’s energy mix, contribute to America’s overall energy security and ultimately bring energy costs down.
The Birch solar farm will implement sheep grazing to maintain the land and keep it in farm production, employing Ohio farmers and strengthening the region’s agricultural economy.
The solar panels are only being placed on land that has already been disturbed or plowed, and all areas are set back from wetlands. Plus, all existing trees and natural screening are being preserved.
More than a solar farm
Birch by the numbers
With Lightsource bp’s model of owning and operating our projects, we’re committed to being a long-term partner in Ohio and the local communities where we operate.
Birch will contribute approximately $81 million in additional revenue for the community over its project life, benefitting local schools, street maintenance, fire stations, parks and other community public services. Currently, less than $100,000 is paid annually in traditional agricultural tax on the project property. Imagine what can be funded.
We will lease the land for the project from local landowners, providing a new source of reliable revenue for 30 years and helping keep their land in the family for generations.
We also voluntarily offer payments to adjacent landowners ranging from $10,000 – $50,000 depending on the proximity of the landowner to the project. We are also having specific conversations with these neighbors about landscaping and screening.
We develop long-term land management plans that aim to minimize the effect of the solar farm to the ecosystem as well as improve soil health, foster biodiversity and pollinators, and create wildlife habitats.
The solar farm will provide educational opportunities for local schools and universities, with Lightsource bp providing curriculum support, research opportunities and site tours.
In addition, we will establish a $500,000 Community Fund to support community needs, education, parks, emergency services or other items identified by the community.
Lightsource bp has a deep commitment to delivering clean and affordable energy, as well as maximizing the environmental sustainability and positive social impacts of each of our projects. We call this approach responsible solar.
Solar is a passive form of technology, generating emissions-free electricity that adds security to our country’s energy mix. This, combined with its affordability and correlation to peak electricity demand periods, makes it an ideal energy source for the US.
- Solar farms do not emit any noise beyond the site boundaries–and with solar panels being only about 10 feet tall–can be designed to limit project visibility from neighbors and nearby roads.
- With a long-term land management plan, studies have shown that solar farms can meaningfully increase wildlife populations and biodiversity.
- Solar farms help strengthen rural economies by: creating local jobs; contributing significant annual revenue for local counties; providing dependable supplemental farm income; and bringing multimillion dollar annual operations budgets that are primarily spent in the region.
More about this project
Column: Legislation halting solar projects misguided
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) represents nearly 20,000 workers in Ohio and is the largest energy union in the world. Our local labor halls represent members responsible for keeping all generation sources running — fossil fuels and carbon neutral sources alike. IBEW locals in Ohio have been diligently training our workforce for the growing solar energy economy and stand ready to actively participate in the industry’s growth.
Proposed solar farm scales back footprint
“I think most people do want us there, and it’s our responsibility to tweak the layout to accommodate the concerns of the community,” Montana said. “In the last couple of weeks, we’ve done extensive environmental studies and melded that together with feedback we’ve gotten from the community to make a much more consolidated project.”
Letter: Shawnee can grow stronger
“I am a member of the Shawnee community and have been hearing a lot of concerns about the Birch Solar Project. It is my obligation to my community to speak out about the truth of utility-scale solar so that we can squelch the false allegations being posed by the anti-solar groups in our region.”
A solar project is about as safe as a facility can be. There are no air or chemical emissions from the solar farm. No trucks will be coming and going on a daily basis once construction is complete. The power will leave the solar project on lines just like the power lines in your neighborhood. What about reflected sunlight? The more sunlight a solar panel absorbs, the more electricity it can produce. Solar panels are thus designed to absorb light, and only reflect a small amount of the sunlight that hits them as compared to most other everyday objects. For example, solar panels reflect significantly less light than flat water.
Once built, a solar farm is a secure site with little disturbance for decades. This gives the land a recovery period, increasing future soil quality and land value. At the end of the project the installation will be dismantled, removed and recycled without harming the land – we make sure that the land is restored to its original state, or better.
Once the solar farm is in place it requires very little maintenance with visits in a handful of regular cars or 4x4s that would cause no traffic disruption. While the solar farm is being constructed, a traffic management plan will be put in place.
Solar is a passive technology which doesn’t produce any harmful by-products. In fact, solar energy replaces polluting energy generated by fossil fuels, improving the health of people and the environment they live in.
Lightsource bp and our project investors will fully fund the project with private capital, an estimated $337 million of private investment into energy infrastructure for Ohio.