The negotiation process between Vinton County officials and the Chicago-based Invenergy Company to build a solar farm near Zaleski has reached a major development point. According to Vinton County Commissioner Mark Fout, the county's negotiating team has submitted a plan to the company for their consideration.
During a recent interview with The Telegram, Invenergy Vice President Mike Kaplan explained the project is a large one. It consists of the company leasing 1,100 acres and producing 120 megawatts of electricity. He says the strip-mine land they found is tough to find and it will suite the company's need.
Fout explained, under the terms of the proposal, the county will be charging Invenergy $7,000 per megawatt ($840,000 in collections) the first year. In the second and following years, the total increases to $8,700 per megawatt ($957,000) in the 35-year agreement, but he added the county is open to a counter-offer. The Ohio Revised Code's ceiling is $7,000-9,000 per megawatt.
Fout stated the county will be as fair as possible because this project is good, clean and environmentally-friendly to the county. In all, Fout says county officials have a favorable view of the company and he thinks an agreement can be reached soon.
"I am impressed with them, their professionalism and what they have accomplished," said Fout. "They have built a solid organization."
Tax Numbers Looking Good
County Auditor Cindy Owings-Waugh provided The Telegram with the projected tax-revenue breakdowns. These would be for the first year only and later increases will come from future-negotiated agreements. The major payouts to taxing entities are (based on 2016 tax rates): Vinton County Local Schools $374,048.67; Elk Township $100,068.37; Vinton County General Fund; $77,639.25; EMS $51,759.50; 317 Board $34,506.33 and many other smaller distributions as well.
Kaplan stated they are pleased to becoming involved in Vinton County. He says they are wanting to work with county officials and come up with a fair agreement.
"Our company is big enough to yield highly professional services, but small enough to be flexible and creative," said Kaplan. "We deal with all types of communities and do our best to be sensitive to their needs."
Invenergy has already made a splash in the community by becoming the presenting sponsor for the upcoming Vinton County Junior Fair.
Commissioner Fout noted the county appreciates the gesture and predicts a strong relationship between the county and company for many years to come.