Public Hearing Set For July 14
The Harrodsburg-Mercer County Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing next month that could open the door to a proposed $150 million solar farm.
The planning and zoning commission is seeking public input on a proposed text amendment that would allow for solar farms as conditional uses in A-1 (agriculture) and R-1 (residential) zoning districts.
“Being able to do a project like this in Mercer County is a big deal,” said Adam Edelen, the former Kentucky auditor of public accounts and a solar power entrepreneur. Edelen addressed the commission in a meeting last week via Zoom.
He said renewable energy is a precondition of economic development. Edelen said the $150 million facility would have a significant impact on local employment especially during the construction phase.
He said financiers would not sign off on the funding without the proposed text amendment.
“We really are interested in doing the right thing,” Edelen said.
Rod Northway, senior vice president of development at Savion, said the company is part of Macquarie Group Limited of Australia, which is the world’s largest infrastructure asset manager, he said.
Savion is the leading solar developer in Kentucky, with five projects totaling over $650 million, in addition to projects in over 20 states.
If the project wins approval, it will be the second solar farm in Mercer County.
Kentucky Utilities opened a 10 megawatt solar facility at the E.W. Brown Generating Station in Burgin in 2016.
Herrington Lake was created in 1925 when K.U. dammed the Dix River three miles upstream from its confluence with the Kentucky River to power a hydroelectric generating station.
That is one of the reasons Savion, which is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, is attracted to Mercer County.
Drew Gibbons, senior development director at Savion, said the 175 megawatt project would have a 12 acre footprint close to two high voltage transmission lines. Gibbons said it can take two to five years to get a project ready for construction. He said they Are working to fast-track the project and it could be online as early as 2022.
Gibbons said the project would have a significant economic impact while not stressing local services or infrastructure. The solar facility would generate up to 300 construction jobs which could generate a year of increased revenue for local businesses. It would create up to five permanent jobs after construction, he said.
But before any of that can happen, the planning and zoning commission has to approve the text amendment.
According to Shawn Moore, the executive director of planning and zoning, the public hearing on the proposed text amendment will be held at the next meeting on July 14.
Moore said he hopes to hold the meeting at Lions Park Community Center, which would allow the public to stay socially distant.
In addition, the commission will also hear public input on the first six chapters of the county’s revised comprehensive plan.
In other business, the Harrodsburg-Mercer County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a development plan submitted by Stephen Elliott to build four multifamily housing units—totaling 25 dwelling units—on Hycliff Street in Harrodsburg.
The next meeting of the Harrodsburg-Mercer County Planning and Zoning Commission will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14.