Get the Facts

Learn more about solar energy here! Below are answers to some of the most-asked questions about solar energy and the Fulton County Solar Project.

Solar Faqs

Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are constructed of silicon, tempered glass, electrical wiring, and a metal frame. Silicon, an element most commonly found in sand, has conductive properties that allow it to absorb and convert sunlight into electricity. When light interacts with a silicon cell, it causes electrons to be set into motion, which initiates a flow of electric current in a process known as the “photovoltaic effect.” 1

A solar farm is a large group of solar panels that operate together as one power generation facility, delivering electricity to the existing electric grid. Solar farms are typically arranged in parallel rows with up to 20-foot-wide access buffers between each row.

A panel array, which includes both PV panel and rack mounting, is typically 12 feet tall at its highest point. The mounting racks are supported by steel pile foundations generally set up to 8 feet into the ground without the use of concrete. Panel designs currently being evaluated by ConnectGen include single-axis tracking mounting, which rotate slowly from east to west once a day, keeping the sun at a 90-degree angle from the panels to ensure maximum energy is absorbed. ConnectGen monitors technology improvements and will incorporate improved design as appropriate which may affect solar array dimensions. Each section of solar panels is typically fenced off to ensure security and safe operation, and, in many cases, surrounded by vegetative screening.

ConnectGen expects to pay millions of dollars per year directly to participating landowners through lease, easement, and neighbor agreements. These landowners, in turn, will use this money to reinvest in new farm equipment or home improvements, which will generate additional income for the township and county in assessed property taxes and sales tax.

The Fulton County Solar Project represents a substantial capital investment, which will result in a significant increase in Gorham Township’s and Fulton County’s taxable property base. The Fulton County Solar Project will increase revenues to township and county taxing jurisdictions, totaling millions of dollars over the life of the project. Gorham Township, Fulton County, the Fayette Local School District, and local public services will all directly benefit from millions of dollars in increased revenues, which can be used to fund road upgrades, schools, public safety, and other critically important public services at no cost to taxpayers and homeowners.

Further, the Fulton County Solar Project will support up to 200 family-wage jobs during construction with even more during peak construction times, 80% of which will be sourced from the State of Ohio. These are jobs that can help retain young people in Gorham Township and Fulton County by offering them a broader range of well-paying employment opportunities. The Fulton County Solar Project will also support local businesses in the area by increasing activity among local hotels and motels, gas stations, restaurants, equipment rentals, materials suppliers, and other similar businesses.

Solar projects are low impact and coexist well with agriculture, operating without any impact to adjacent agricultural properties. During the solar project’s 30 year or more lifespan, the land hosting the project gets a recovery period, allowing the soil to restore fertility and rebuild. Native vegetation will grow under the panels, allowing the land to retain water and topsoil and improve soil health over time, which can increase the productivity and value of the land for agriculture in the future.2 Pollinator-friendly seed mixes will also improve habitat availability, diversity, and quality for native insects, which provide important pollinating services for surrounding farms that, in some cases, help boost agricultural yields.34

The construction, post-construction restoration, and decommissioning of the Fulton County Solar Project will be conducted in accordance with the Ohio Power Siting Board regulations to mitigate construction impacts to agricultural land. Further, ConnectGen will have a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), which will outline ConnectGen’s plans for sediment and erosion controls to manage both the amount and composition of any stormwater discharged from the project site. There are no anticipated stormwater runoff issues for land hosting or adjacent to panel areas.

At the end of the solar project’s useful life, the project is decommissioned, and the land can be returned to agricultural use.5 In addition, a solar project can offer a consistent, weather-resistant source of income for rural farmers and their local economies, providing an alternative “crop” that diversifies farmers’ revenues.

Solar power is now one of the cheapest new sources of electricity in most of the world due to declining equipment costs, improved technologies, and public policy supporting the procurement of renewable energy across the country.6

In the last decade, the cost to install solar has dropped by more than 70%, and in the last decade alone, solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 42%.7  According to Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis – Version 15.0 (2021), even without tax credits, new solar resources have a levelized cost of energy in the range of 3 cents/kWh – 4.1 cents/kWh for large-scale crystalline solar. This range falls below the levelized cost of energy for new coal or gas combined cycle power production.8 These results have been bolstered by the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2021, which found, “In most markets, solar PV or wind now represents the cheapest available source of new electricity generation.”9

Adding to the growing appeal, solar energy is uniquely able to offer electricity at a fixed-price contract over the life of the project. Solar energy has no fuel cost and therefore no fuel price risk, allowing it to act as a hedge against future volatility of natural gas prices. 10 Levelized power purchase agreements for commercial-scale solar projects fell to $24/MWh in 2019, down 17% from 2018 and more than 80% since 2010.11

Solar projects do not burn fossil fuels to generate electricity, and as a result, do not emit any air pollutants such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, or particulate matter. Both fossil fuel and non-fossil fuel power technologies induce life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions that stem from the energy requirements for their construction and operation. Known as a “carbon debt”, this debt of energy must be paid off to calculate how solar projects reduce emissions over their lifetime. A typical utility-scale solar project repays its carbon footprint in roughly 12 months or less,12 allowing them to provide decades of zero emission energy.

Yes. Solar panel materials are enclosed with glass and do not mix with water or vaporize into the air, so there is little to no risk of chemicals, including greenhouse gases, being released into the environment during normal use. Crystalline silicon PV panels, an extremely common type of solar panel used around the world, “do not pose a material risk of toxicity to public health and safety.”13 ConnectGen is committed to installing these types of panels to ensure safety within the community.

All solar facilities are designed to strict electrical safety standards to ensure safe operation. Product safety standards, installation requirements, and building codes for solar facilities are addressed by the National Fire Protection Agency’s National Electrical Code, the International Code Council’s International Fire Code, the International Association of Firefighters, and several other national, state and local safety and product standards groups.14

The construction of the Fulton County Solar Project will not require toxic chemicals or processes. PV panels typically consist of glass, aluminum, copper, silver, and semiconductor materials than can be successfully recovered and reused. Solar panel materials are enclosed with glass and do not mix with water or vaporize into the air, so there is little to no risk of chemicals, including greenhouse gases, being released into the environment during normal use. Crystalline silicon PV panels, which represent approximately 90% of the solar panels in use today, “do not pose a material risk of toxicity to public health and safety.”15 ConnectGen is committed to installing these types of panels to ensure safety within the community.

In addition, to provide decades of corrosion-free operation, panels – like the ones that will be used for the Fulton County Solar Project – are encapsulated from air and moisture between two layers of plastic. The encapsulation layers are further protected with a layer of tempered glass on the front and a polymer sheet on the back. For decades, this same material has been used between layers of tempered glass to give car windshields and hurricane windows their great strength, allowing them to stay intact even if damage occurs.

Solar projects are designed with lightning protection on all system components, which protect against damage in the event of a lightning strike. The ground grid will be designed in consideration of the conductivity of soils in the area as well as any other nearby conductive materials that are buried or connected to the ground, such as water or natural gas pipes.

Prior to operation, we will develop an Emergency Response Plan in accordance with industry best practices, which will outline the response procedures to be employed should an emergency arise at the project site. We will work closely and collaboratively with the local departments and authorities. We provide pre-construction training to all emergency response personnel, which includes a description of the facility, any potential construction risks, and the role of emergency responders should an incident occur. After construction is complete, we will host the emergency response personnel for a site visit to make sure they are familiar with the system and our Emergency Response Plan.

Temporary, elevated noise levels will occur during the construction phase of a solar project, but once construction is complete, an operating solar project produces minimal sound during the day and is dormant at night. Per the Ohio Power Siting Board application process, ConnectGen will submit a detailed study of the potential noise impacts associated with the operation of the facility. The results of the study will assess expected noise levels, and also propose noise limits, which will minimize and mitigate adverse impacts associated with operation of the Fulton County Solar Project. In addition, ConnectGen is committed to taking steps to minimize and mitigate visual impacts of the project through vegetative buffers and setbacks from property lines, which will provide additional sound dampening benefits as well.

No. Property value studies conducted across the country have shown that proximity to large-scale solar projects does not measurably impact property values or deter the sale of agricultural or residential land.16 For example:

  • In 2017, the Chisago County (Minnesota) Assessor’s Office conducted their own study on property prices adjacent to and in the close vicinity of a 1,000 acre North Star solar farm in Minnesota. John Keefe, the Chisago County Assessor, concluded that the North Star solar farm had “no adverse impact” on property values. Almost all of the [Test Area] properties sold were at a price above the assessed value. He further stated that, “It seems conclusive that valuation has not suffered.17
  • In 2021, Kirkland Appraisals, LLC researched solar farms in Ohio as well as other states, researched studies and articles, and talked with real estate professionals. He found no negative impact in home values due to abutting or adjoining a solar farm, as well as no negative impact to abutting or adjacent agricultural land. He also noted that some of the positive implications expressed by people living next to solar farms include protection from future residential developments or other intrusive uses, reduced dust, odor and chemicals from former farming operations, protection from light pollution at night, it’s quiet and there’s minimal traffic.18
  • A study of 451 solar farms in North Carolina found “no direct negative or positive spillover effect of a solar farm construction on nearby agricultural land values. Although there are no direct effects of solar farms on nearby agricultural land values, we do find evidence that suggests construction of a solar farm may create a small, positive, option-value for landowners that is capitalized into land prices. Specifically, after construction of a nearby solar farm, we find that agricultural land that is also located near transmission infrastructure may increase modestly in value.”19

If sited and developed properly, the Fulton County Solar Project will have minimal impacts on local wildlife. In fact, studies show that solar facilities can provide shelter for species, promote land stability, preserve habitat, and support biodiversity.20 Land within the project setback area is being designed to facilitate safe passage for wildlife migration, providing further benefits. 

As part of the Ohio Power Siting Board application process, the Fulton County Solar Project is consulting with state and federal agencies and stakeholders, including the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to ensure that potential environmental impacts are fully considered. Studies to help assess potential impacts include a noise impact assessment, wetland delineations, habitat assessment, and a wide range of other studies and surveys. The information gathered from this comprehensive coordination and review is used to inform final siting and design as well as various resource management plans and environmental protection measures to avoid, minimize or mitigate impacts to wildlife.

Once constructed, the Fulton County Solar Project will produce no pollution or emissions. Further, native vegetation can grow under the panels, and the project can provide sanctuaries for flora and fauna to thrive.20 Vegetation management concepts, such as integrated vegetation management and pollinator friendly practices, provide opportunities to promote beneficial plants species and enhance habitats on the site.

Fencing, a security measure put in place in accordance with industry best practices, will be limited to areas around panels. Collection easements between panel areas will not be fenced to allow larger wildlife to traverse through the Project Area without disruption.

ConnectGen will develop and implement a Vegetation Management Plan that establishes vegetation goals and identifies the specific treatments that may be used to ensure safe and reliable operation of the facility. Common practices to control and manage vegetation will involve mechanized and agrarian means; however, herbicides may be employed, depending on the target plant species, land use activities and landowner input. ConnectGen is committed to the conscientious use of appropriate management techniques to control vegetation in a way that is designed to minimize the risk of unreasonable adverse effects on human health and the environment.

PV panels are designed to last more than 25 years, and many manufacturers offer performance guarantees backed by warranties.22 ConnectGen anticipates that the panels used for the Fulton County Solar Project will have a useful life of at least 30 years. Like many other durable products and construction materials, solar equipment can last for decades with proper maintenance, of which they require very little due to the presence of very few, if any, moving parts.23 Proper operations and maintenance can increase efficiency, extend a project’s lifetime, and ensure safety.24 Prior to construction, the Fulton County Solar Project will develop and implement an Operations and Maintenance Plan based on industry best practices and site-specific environmental conditions.

ConnectGen’s lease agreement states that the company is responsible for the decommissioning and removal of project infrastructure at the end of the project’s life.

Additionally, The State of Ohio will require a Decommissioning and Restoration Plan be put in place as part of the OPSB permitting process. The Decommissioning and Restoration Plan will outline the various ways in which ConnectGen will safely and responsibly remove installed solar equipment and how the property within the project area will be restored to as close to its state prior to construction as possible. ConnectGen will put financial security in place early in the life of the project to ensure that host communities and landowners will bear no responsibility for decommissioning or restoration.

Solar PV panels typically consist of glass, polymer, aluminum, copper, and semiconductor materials,25 which can be safely disposed of in landfills at the end of the project life. In addition, recycling technologies have emerged in the last several years that have enabled these materials to be recovered and recycled at the end of their useful life.26 PV solar panel recycling technologies have been put in place over the last decade that have been shown to recover over 95% of semiconductor materials and over 90% of the glass in the panel.27 In other cases, solar PV components can be reused or refurbished to have a “second life” of generating electricity.28 The industry continues to work with recycling partners and to research and explore additional cost-effective recycling technologies.29






























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