Large Solar Farm Planned for Vinton County

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Vinton County could soon be home to one of the largest solar energy projects in Ohio.

According to the Athens Messenger, the Vinton Solar Energy Center is a proposed project of Invenergy, a Chicago-based power and energy company. Invenergy already operates or has planned other solar and wind energy projects in 17 other states.

Invenergy must first file a state permit to the Ohio Power Sitting Board, which it plans to do in May. If it gets the go-ahead, Invenergy estimates the solar project to be operational as early as December of 2018.

The Center would have a solar panel grid stretching across more than 1,000 acres on former strip mine land northeast of McArthur. The 120 megawatt facility would be one of the largest in Ohio once completed.

“Basically if we can keep our energy dollars in the community is the goal,” Chris Chmiel, Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council Chair, said. “When you buy power, a lot of the money is leaving the region. The question is how do we create a local energy economy.”

While the solar energy project will bring economic opportunities to Vinton County, it’s important to make sure some money generated from the project stays in southeastern Ohio to re-invest in local communities, Chmiel said.

The solar energy project would create 350 temporary construction jobs and a handful of permanent jobs for the region, according to Invenergy officials.