PIQUA — The Piqua Planning Commission approved a special use request on Tuesday that would allow a second solar field to locate in the Piqua area.
The planned solar field will occupy approximately 75-90 acres of a 120-acre parcel of land southeast of Manier and McKinley avenues, with approximately 10 of the acres currently located within city limits. It will generate 12.5 megawatts at its peak performance.
The request was made by DP AMP Solar, LLC, an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC. NextEra currently owns and operates the solar field located on Staunton Street.
“NextEra Energery Resources is a leader in the renewable space. We currently operate and own over 19,000 megawatts in the U.S. and Canada, and about 15,000 megawatts of those are renewable,” Julie Rice, NextEra’s director of development responsible for the mid-Atlantic region, said. “I mention that so that you know we are disciplined, and we are mature in this space.”
The Miami County Planning and Zoning Department will also have to weigh in on the project prior to this property becoming one parcel and being annexed into city limits at a later date.
The property is currently zoned for open space as it is currently being used for agricultural purposes.
The solar field on Manier Avenue would have a 30-foot setback with what Piqua City Planner Chris Schmiesing called a “robust landscape plan.”
“It will service you locally as a community,” Rice said.
“We want to build things our citizens can be proud of,” Piqua Power System Director Ed Krieger said. Krieger said that, of the power’s system’s diverse power supply, 20 percent is also already from renewable resources. He added that solar energy is a “very enviable” resource.
Planning commission member Mark Spoltman asked what percentage of Piqua’s energy supply will the solar energy make.
Krieger said that, of Piqua’s peak demand of 60-65 megawatts, the energy produced from the Staunton Street and Manier Avenue solar fields will produce 20-25 percent of that energy.
Spoltman later asked if residents would see a reduction in rates.
Krieger did not address customer rates, but he said that the solar fields are a “cost-competitive resource” and are the second to third lowest-costing energy resource for the city.
“It’s a cheaper resource than the wind,” Krieger said.
The solar fields would reduce transmission rates due to the field being located in Piqua and integrated into the city’s electrical system.
The site, like the Staunton Street solar field, is a low-impact site. “There are no emissions,” Krieger said. “This is about as low an impact as you’ll find.”
The site will also be a tracking site where the solar panels will move and follow the path of the sun to take greater advantage of the sun.
An engineer of the project said that the solar panels are 77 inches by 35 inches and can withstand two-inch hailstorms with wind between 60-70 miles per hour.
In other news:
The planning commission approved a dwelling unit special use for the former Flesh Public Library building, located at 124 W. Greene St.
The applicant and one of the prospective buyers, Linda Brotkin, said that her husband, M. David Dial Jr., and she plan to restore the property and use it as a single-family residence.
The property is currently condemned and has been since November 2015 when the Piqua Police Department and other local agencies raided the building to investigate drug activity and other criminal activities going on at the site. The building has also been for sale since that raid.
Brotkin, during the planning commission’s meeting, was appreciative of the building’s architecture and spoke about their plans to renovate the building.
“It is a Tudor Revival,” Brotkin said. “It is a beautiful, beautiful building.”
Brotkin said that this will be third home that her husband and she have renovated, adding that this is not the largest home that they have renovated.
“We have a passion for this,” Brotkin said. “We can get this done … We will do as good a job as possible.”
Their pre-purchase investment for the property, which has four floors and a ballroom, was approximately $20,000 for inspections and surveys done at the site. They plan to begin work in the spring on the building’s roof.
“This is going to be a good thing for our community,” Jim Oda, chairman of the planning commission, said. “This is very, very exciting.”
The planning commission also approved a special use request for a guest house to be built on the Orrmont Estate, located at 1612 S. Main St. The guest house will be complementary to the main house. The Orrmont Estate, which is also used as a banquet facility, recently converted an old barn for special events.
Reach Sam Wildow at firstname.lastname@example.org