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Landowner Problems with Solar Projects – Part B

By: J. Richard Emens and Cody Smith
Emens Wolper Jacobs & Jasin Law Firm
Columbus, Ohio

While solar projects to generate electricity can be beneficial for landowners, there are also many potential landowner problems.

These problems for landowners are similar, but different, depending on:

  1. Is the solar project to generate 50 MW (fifty megawatts) or more of electricity AND located on the landowner’s land?
  2. Is the solar project to generate less than 50 MW (fifty megawatts) or electricity AND located on the landowner’s land?
  3. Is the solar project to be located on the land adjacent to or near the landowner’s land?

The problems that may arise are:

  1. No or inadequate drainage protection of current drainage patterns.
  2. No or inadequate restoration of the property after the solar project terminates so the land cannot be farmed after the solar people leave the property.
  3. No preservation of the topsoil.
  4. Potential liability and/or litigation involving the landowner for electrical shock and other injuries to family or third parties.
  5. Damage or destruction of field tiles.
  6. Adverse impacts to existing trees, buildings and fences.
  7. Dust and dirt being spread on the land and/or the adjacent road and lands.
  8. Roads and ditches created on the land without provision for repair.
  9. Loud noises causing disturbance to the landowners and neighbors.
  10. Glare and glint problems resulting in brief loss of vision to landowners and neighbors.
  11. Damage to water wells of the landowner and to the water aquifer of the landowner and neighbors.
  12. Increase in traffic on the local roads that prevent use by the landowner and neighbors.
  13. Compaction of soil causing lower future crop yields for many, many years.
  14. Animosity of adjacent or nearby landowners.

This article focuses on B – – where the solar project is on landowner’s land and is to generate less than 50MW.

Because Ohio law regulating solar projects through the Ohio Power Siting Board DOES NOT APPLY to projects of less than 50 MW, each of the fourteen problems listed above, are likely to arise with the “Under 50 MW” projects.

It is important for a landowner planning to have an “Under 50 MW” project on his or her land to work closely with the local Township Trustees, Zoning Board and County Commissioners to attempt to provide mitigation of the potential problems.

AND because the solar leases utilized by solar developers of “Under 50MW” projects are as lengthy and landowner unfriendly as the Solar Leases for larger solar projects, we recommend that the landowner work closely with the Ohio Farm Bureau and knowledgeable attorneys to reduce the number and the impact of the listed problems.

In subsequent articles, we expect to discuss the solar projects described at A and C, above.