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A Massive New Solar Farm Shines New Light on Madison County

A massive new solar farm is coming to Madison County, promising an economic boon for the rural area while showcasing novel agricultural techniques on a large scale.

Project Approval and Scope

The Ohio Power Siting Board approved the Oak Run Solar Project in a 7-2 vote this week. This project will cover a staggering 4,400 acres across three townships near the intersection of Urbana-West Jefferson Road and State Route 38. At 800 megawatts, it stands as one of the largest solar farms in the country.

Innovative Agrivoltaic Approach

Savion, a renewable energy company Shell owns, is developing the $250 million project. Besides generating enough clean electricity to power 170,000 homes, Oak Run will feature a 300-megawatt battery storage facility onsite.

Savion plans to maintain active agriculture amidst the solar panels innovatively. The company has committed to farming at least 2,000 acres using agrivoltaic methods, such as growing crops between rows of panels. This cutting-edge approach blends renewable energy and food production, which Savion has already tested locally at its smaller Madison Fields Solar Project.

graphic describing Agrivoltaics
National Renewable Energy Laboratory “Growing Plants, Power, and Partnerships Through Agrivoltaics”

“Savion has posted images on social media that show wheat and soybean crops thriving underneath our solar arrays,” said John Roberts, a Savion spokesperson. “Oak Run allows us to scale up agrivoltaics to an unprecedented level.”

Experts are excited about the potential learnings from such a massive agrivoltaic demonstration. If successful, it could lead to more projects that merge agriculture and solar nationwide.

Economic Impact

The economic impacts for Madison County are also promising. Savion estimates that Oak Run will generate $250 million in tax revenues over 35 years of operation, create hundreds of construction jobs, and offer dozens of permanent positions.

oak run solar project madison ohio
via Oak Run Solar Project

“This solar farm will be an incredible cash crop for our communities,” said Madison County Commissioner Emily Richards. “The tax revenues will hugely boost our schools, roads, and services.”

Community Concerns and Next Steps

However, not everyone shares this enthusiasm. Some local officials, including commissioners and township boards, have opposed the project due to concerns over converting prime farmland and impacts on drainage and rural character.

Bill Gates, who owns part of the Oak Run site, has remained publicly silent on the development. Despite this, the project has received approval to start construction as early as 2025, marking a new era of renewable energy production for Ohio.