Rezoning for potential solar field approved

Final legislation accepted for Bike Path Connections project

By Sam Wildow -

PIQUA —The Piqua City Commission approved a zoning amendment change that is the first step in the potential development of a solar field within the city during their meeting Tuesday evening.

The application, which is for 430 and 543 Staunton St., will rezone those locations from one-family residential to light industry. These locations are currently a vacant school lot and farm fields. Ed Krieger, director of the Piqua Power Plant, is the applicant. The current owners of the land are Piqua City Schools and a private resident.

City Planner Chris Schmiesing explained that this request comes from the Piqua Power System looking to diversify their portfolio. The Piqua Power System is currently purchasing solar power through American Municipal Power’s (AMP) solar power project at a cost of approximately 3.3 cents per kilowatt hour, which Krieger said is one of the cheapest power resources for the city.

As part of the phase two of AMP’s solar power project, the Piqua Power System can purchase solar power as well as find a site within the city for the potential development of a solar field. Krieger explained that the city first has to either own the property or have an ownership agreement over the property. Then, a company called NextEra would develop the site for AMP, who would then purchase power generated from the solar field.

The city would not be funding or developing the solar field site, as NextEra would invest in that portion of the project before selling the energy generated from that solar field back to AMP members like the city of Piqua. NextEra will then see a return on that investment over the 25-year span of AMP’s solar power project.

“We pay for the power that comes out of the project,” Krieger said.

Having a solar field within the city, though, would potentially allow the city to save on transmission costs.

Krieger said that the proposed solar field would generate up to 1,500 kilowatts at its peak generation. For comparison, AMP’s solar power project also includes a solar field in Bowling Green, which generates up to 20,000 kilowatts at its peak generation. NextEra is currently selling the solar energy that site generates back to AMP members.

“We’re all taking power out of the Bowling Green project,” Krieger said.

The commission also approved the final legislation for an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for the Bike Path Connections Project.

The preliminary agreement with ODOT was authorized in February 2011 for this project, also referred to as the Garnsey Street/Commercial Street Corridor Project. This project will connect existing trail facilities to the existing street improvements through short segments of multi-use trails. It will make adjustments to street corridors to designate the bike routes and pedestrian pathways in addition to realigning the intersection of Garnsey, Roosevelt, and College.

“This project started before I even got here,” City Manager Gary Huff said. “I’m happy to see this finally get finished.”

City Engineer Amy Havenar noted that the city worked extensively on securing right-of-way acquisitions for the project since 2011. Huff noted that City Attorney Stacy Wall worked on obtaining right-of-way acquisitions from four different railroad systems.

The connections include the bike path at Wood Street to Commercial Street to the intersection of Garnsey and Commercial. It will also connect Mote Park to the trail system along with connecting Wayne to Clark to South Main Street.

“It’s a big project,” Havenar said. “A lot of it will be shared-use path.”

Mayor Kazy Hinds said that they needed to remember that while it is commonly referred to as the bike path, it is also a multi-use path that residents use every day to get to work, get groceries, and for transportation in general.

The project also received support from members of the public attending the meeting.

“It’s awesome,” Susan Curtis of Piqua said.

Curtis works at Miami Valley Steel, where she said there are employees who bike to work and use the bike path on South Main Street/County Road 25-A. “I’m excited this is going to get going,” she said.

“I’m really pleased and excited,” Jim Hemmert of Piqua said. “This is probably one of the best connectors.”

The total estimated cost for the project is approximately $656,000, with up to $421,462 being funded with a grant through the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission. The local portion of the cost will be $257,552, which includes a 10 percent contingency. That portion will be funded through the street income tax.

The construction for this project is expected to begin in June and end sometime in the fall.

The commission also approved a contract for the construction of truck unloading stations for the Piqua Power System. The contract is with M&T Excavating, LLC at a cost not to exceed $96,000, which includes a 20 percent contingency. Krieger said the Piqua Power System was required to construct these stations to ensure that any potential fuel spills are contained during the loading of gas turbine fuel tanks.

Next, the commission approved a contract for roof repairs to the old Piqua Power Plant on South Main Street. The contract is with WRI Applications, LLC at a cost not to exceed $40,000. Krieger explained that the Piqua Power System has been completing repairs on the old power plant for the last four years in order to use this site again as another potential source of energy generation of some type.

Later, the commission authorized purchasing land located on R M Davis Parkway for the Health and Sanitation Department for a new garage and office facility. The cost is not to exceed $53,425.

The commission went into executive session twice during their meeting, first to discuss the purchase of property and secondly to discuss the city manager’s position. Huff recently accepted a new position in Ashland, Ky., and is expected to leave the city of Piqua.

Final legislation accepted for Bike Path Connections project

By Sam Wildow

Reach Sam Wildow at or (937) 451-3336

Reach Sam Wildow at or (937) 451-3336