Painter Creek Solar faces setback

By Meladi Brewr

DailyAdvocate.com

GREENVILLE — The Darke County Board of Commissioners met Thursday to discuss the transfer of appropriations, fund advance-backs, and APEX gave an update on the Painter Creek Solar project. Commissioner Matt Aultman, Mike Stegall, and Larry Holmes were present.

A transfer of appropriations for the DC Sheriff was approved. $1,200 was transferred for CCW System upgrades, and $1,200 was transferred for travel expenses.

The Fund Advance for the 2021 FAA AIP Grant to pay for CMT services for the Terminal Building was approved in the amount of $5,122.50. Funds will advance-back once revenue is received. The commissioners also approved a Fund Advance for the 2022 FAA AIP Grant to cover CMT bills for professional services in the amount of $820. The money will advance-back once revenue is received.

A Fund Advance-back and revenue/appropriations decrease were approved for the advancing of $2,946 back to the general fund. A total revenue decrease of $36,108 and total appropriation decrease of the same was also approved to ensure the number match concluded this grant.

An agreement between Darke County and Candy Lammers, CSL Contracting LLC was approved. Lammers will provide services for the County’s PY2021 CHIP Grant.

“When Dave Ballinger stepped away from his position, we had to fill in with a couple different folks to fill the need of what he was doing for us, and one of the CHIP requirements is when you go in for a remodel or rehab is to look at lead based paint assessments,” Aultman said.

He added it’s an easy process, but it requires a person to take classes and have certifications in order to do it. Lammers is able to provide the service under the CSL, and the contract is not to exceed $10,800.

Jessica Walsh, Development Manager with APEX Clean Energy, spoke at the end of the meeting regarding the Painter Creek Solar project and gave a timeline update.

“I wanted to stop in and give some updates on our expectations as far as timing goes for Painter Creek Solar,” Walsh said. “Earlier this year we shared that we learned from the PJM grid, which as you know is the regional transmission operator for all of Ohio as well as 12 other states, they announced they are going to go through what they called a retool.”

Essentially, PJM is taking the entire system by which they do all of the studies and revamping it. This revamping is going to result in delays and blackout periods for any new projects that come in.

“Back when we learned that earlier this year, we reevaluated submitting our OPSB application until we had more clarity on timing, and over the last several months we’ve learned more about how this will affect projects in the position of Painter Creek,” Walsh said.

Walsh said the current system goes through an application process, studies, and eventually there is the green light to go ahead with project construction. This process, with the number of applications being received, can take between eight to 10 years to get through everything.

“They realized it just wasn’t sustainable. Now what they are doing is they are remodeling their system to base it off of MISO, and they will be accepting new applications and going through a different series of studies that will take only about two years from start to finish,” Walsh said.

Due to the switch over, the company will have a blackout period where they will not be accepting new applications until early 2026, and for projects that are already in, like Painter Creek, there is not a definite answer as to what will happen due to the system change.

“There’s some projects that are a little earlier than us that are kind of getting out unscathed and staying on schedule,” Walsh said, “but there is a big group of projects in our time frame that are in a little bit of a limbo period.”

Walsh said APEX does not know if they will “be sucked into the new process and be delayed several years,” nor do they know if we’re going to be fast-tracked.

“The feedback we are seeing is that we are not going to have answers for timing for the project until sometime next year,” Walsh said.

Due to the set back, APEX is taking a step back until they can get more clarity from PJM because they “do not have much of a way to move forward” as far as what the project will look like and timing for permits. Walsh said this set back will not affect anyone with a lease, as the company will continue to pay them as they wait.

“So basically you are on indefinite hold,” Holmes said.

Walsh confirmed the process is out of APEX’s hands stating “It is unfortunate for not just our project but across the 13 states that PJM has jurisdiction over.”

To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected]