Robertson, Hoover Appointed to State Board to Consider Solar Project

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 21, 2021) – The Kentucky State Board on Electric Generation and Transmission Siting (Siting Board) has received an application requesting a construction certificate for a solar energy project in Russell County. A review has determined that the application is complete as filed on May 12, 2021. Mt. Olive Creek Solar, LLC, proposes construction of a 60 MW photovoltaic solar array on approximately 475 acres. According to the application, the proposed site is on property that historically has been used for agricultural purposes near Russell Springs. The Case number is 2020-00226. 

Mt. Olive Creek Solar is a subsidiary of Carolina Solar Energy III, LLC, based in Durham, North Carolina. The project will interconnect to an existing transmission line owned by East Kentucky Power Cooperative located on the proposed site, with power from the project to be sold into the regional wholesale market operated by PJM Interconnection.

The Siting Board is attached to the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) for administrative purposes and by law is charged with reviewing applications for independent power producers (IPPs). IPPs are not regulated by the PSC. Applicants to the Siting Board are not required to meet the criteria set by the PSC for new facilities built by regulated utilities, and thus do not need to demonstrate, among other things, that the proposed facility is necessary to meet demand for electricity. 

The Siting Board considers issues such as noise, visual impact, traffic, economic impacts and effects of the proposed facility on Kentucky’s electric grid. It also addresses compliance with local planning and zoning requirements. It does not address environmental matters, which are under the jurisdiction of the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection. 

By law, the Siting Board has 120 days after an application is deemed complete (180 days if a formal hearing is requested) to decide whether to approve that application. The law and associated regulations set certain requirements and deadlines for public participation in the review process. 

Persons or entities with a specific interest in the case may apply to the Siting Board to become parties to the case (intervenors). Intervenors are full participants in the case, with the right to request information from the applicant or other parties to the case and to cross-examine witnesses in an evidentiary hearing.

Intervenors are not required to reside in the county in which the facility is proposed, but must present a specific reason for seeking intervention that is within the Siting Board’s jurisdiction. Intervention may also be granted if the person or entity shows that his or her participation in the proceeding will assist the Siting Board in reaching its decision without unduly interrupting the proceeding. 

A formal evidentiary hearing may be conducted at the request of parties to the case or on the motion of the Siting Board. Participation in the hearing is limited to the applicants and to parties to the case. Testimony is taken under oath. 

A local public meeting will be conducted if requested by a local government entity and may be held if requested by at least three residents of the county in which the facility is proposed. The local public meeting would provide an opportunity for the general public to be heard by the Siting Board in an informal setting. 

Requests for intervenor status, a formal hearing, or local public meeting must be made in writing to the Siting Board within 30 days of the filing of a complete application. The deadline for the Mt. Olive Creek Solar case June 10, 2021. Requests may be filed by e-mail to PSCED@ky.gov or through the PSC’s electronic filing system. More information on the public participation process is available on the Siting Board section of the PSC website. Any local public meeting or formal evidentiary hearing in the case will be announced as they are scheduled. 

The application and related documents are available on the PSC website: https://psc.ky.gov/Case/ViewCaseFilings/2020-00226.

The Siting Board consists of the three members of the PSC, the secretary of the Kentucky Energy and Environmental Cabinet or a designee, the secretary of the Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet or a designee and two local members appointed by the governor to serve for a specific case. The chairman of the PSC serves as chairman of the Siting Board. 

The two local members for Mt. Olive Creek Solar are Jeff Hoover, of Jamestown, representing residents of Russell County, and Gary D. Robertson, Jamestown, Russell County Judge Executive, representing Russell County.  

The Siting Board is headquartered at the PSC and PSC staff also serves as staff to the Siting Board. The Siting Board’s operations are funded through fees paid by applicants.

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Zac Oakes is the News and Sports Director for LakerCountry.com and Laker Country WJRS 104.9 FM.