Clermont SWCD’s Role in Solar Energy

As solar fields begin construction within the county, townships are in the process of changing their zoning codes to regulate this new industry moving into Southwest Ohio. This comes from the passage of Senate Bill 52 by the Ohio General Assembly, giving county and townships additional jurisdiction in planning, zoning and negotiating with solar and wind energy projects. For solar, SB 52 addresses the industrial sized developments that are 50 megawatts (MW) or greater in size. There are two projects currently in the county that are industrial scale and overseen by the Ohio Power Siting Board, one under construction and one in the planning stages. This leaves community scale solar farms (5-49 MW and the assumption of 4-8 acres required per MW depending on panel quality) highly unregulated and up to township zoning departments to oversee. Most townships have begun public outreach and community meetings to gather public input as they write regulations into their zoning codes.

Clermont SWCD has offered our technical services to provide maps, soils and water information and other conservation related guidance to assist townships in updating their zoning codes. SWCD staff will continue to comment on any solar plans that are submitted for review, commenting on environmental, drainage, and overall layout concerns with the project. The District, in partnership with the Clermont Building Inspection Department, inspects erosion control and storm water management practices that are required under Clermont County’s Water Management and Sediment Control (WMSC) regulations. Staff are also available to discuss site specific concerns in regards to solar installation with individual property owners.

Photo on home page from Ohio State University Extension