FAIRFIELD TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – In Columbiana County, commissioners are considering a ban on solar and wind farms for portions of specific townships. They’ll be hosting a public hearing on Feb. 15.
Five townships — Fairfield, Franklin, Perry, West and Salem — are standing against building large solar and wind farms on unincorporated land. They are mostly farming communities.
They’re asking Columbiana County commissioners to ban commercial solar and wind power.
John Garwood has owned his farm in Fairfield since the early 1980s. He’s a township trustee and says he’s against building solar farms in Fairfield Township.
“Farmers, they are certainly the entrepreneurs of the land. They take care of it. They’re the stewards,” Garwood said.
He says he’s concerned this area doesn’t see enough sunlight for the panels to work. He’s also concerned about the environmental impact after they no longer work.
“When they get done with this product, when that product expires, what are they going to do with it? What are they going to do with those panels? Nothing out there yet has really reassured me that they’re going to have a sustainable way of disposing of it,” Garwood said.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, solar panels last, on average, 30-35 years. Panels contain lead and other heavy metals that pose potential environmental risks if disposed of improperly.
More communities are pushing for a ban on commercial wind and solar panels since the passing of Senate Bill 52 in 2021, which gives power to county commissioners for wind and solar zoning.
“It gave the boards of commissioners the ability to go out and say that there are certain areas of the township or certain areas of the county that would be off limits to wind and solar. Or, they could also say that these areas of property could be conducive to wind and solar,” said Columbiana County Commissioner Tim Weigle.
Weigle says they’re asking communities to come forward and ask for the bans so as not to over-step local government. He says commissioners will consider their decision based on comments heard at the Feb. 15 meeting.