A final ruling on Dogwood Corners LLC’s solar installation is due by March 8
Parties interested in the planned, but not yet approved, project Dogwood Corners LLC descended on Frankfort last Wednesday for the long-awaited hearing on the Merchant Plant application with the Kentucky Public Service Commission — either to offer final support or opposition to the proposed energy site in Christian County.
At stake: completion of a 670-acre solar installation that would generate more than 125 megawatts of electricity for the Tennessee Valley Authority and other interested power brokers. And harmony in a society that seems, for the most part, less than enthusiastic about its potential arrival.
With all post-hearing briefs focused on the legal aspects and hearing evidence due by February 23, the Siting Board will begin considering the case on February 24. A ruling must be made by the end of the statutory 180-day mark for final project submission, which is March 8.
The event was attended by a large group from Christian County, including Heather Cook, Crystal Kirkman, Brian Burkhead, Wayne Hunt, Judge-Executive Jerry Gilliam, 8th District Judge John Bruce, and Senator Whitney Westerfield.
Cook emphatically and emotionally asked the site’s board to “please reject the plan,” noting that she had considered selling her property outright if it succeeded — but knowing she would have to disclose the project’s arrival, depressing property values.
Kirkman cited peer-reviewed research from the University of Rhode Island and the University of Texas, suggesting that citizens need to be “smarter about locating solar installations,” and that they should be in “less densely populated areas.”
Furthermore, Kirkman also pointed to the PSC in Madison County, Indiana, where more protections allow commercial solar ownership — but with community safeguards.
Burkhead turned to 10 theses, written by Citizens for Responsible Solar Energy, on why industrial solar energy is “unsuitable for agricultural and rural communities.”
These new key points have been proven:
* Any project offering land for productive agriculture must be rejected by councils and bodies.
* That the land will be forever destroyed by grading, piling and trenching during construction, and that it will take years, and perhaps never, for the property to be restored to its tillable condition.
* Solar energy projects destroy wildlife habitats.
*This solar energy is inefficient compared to the land it consumes.
*Solar energy projects should not be placed near wetlands, rivers, and streams, and should not prevent the preservation of historical sites.
After a public meeting with Oriden and Mitsubishi representatives at New Barren Springs Church, Burkhead said he confirmed to officials the location of five natural springs in the vicinity of the building, and just last week he was reminded by an unnamed community member of a large Indian camp and the possibility of a burial nearby. Proposed location.
Burkhead also believes that the only acceptable public comments “for” or “against” the proposal should come from those who live in the community, or pay property taxes in Christian County, and those who would be affected, or have already signed agreements, should be more involved in Litigation process.
Gilliam told commission Chairman Kent Chandler that the passage of the original and amended solar ordinance was intended to “protect citizens…from what looks like a bombardment of outsiders coming in, soliciting land for solar.”
If approved, construction would begin somewhere in the 2026-2027 window, and peak construction would last 12 to 18 months, Oriden lead representative Megan Stahl testified.
She also provided an in-depth timeline of the project, which she said actually began with Christian County officials and landowners in 2019. According to her and Oriden, that included participating landowners and neighbors, and in 2020 a meeting with the Christian County Planning Department took place. From 2020 to 2021, there was ongoing communication with landowners in the area, as well as other participating landowners and neighbors.
In February 2022, Stahl added, there was a Christian County Fiscal Court Budget Committee meeting, and June 2022 coalesced into a meeting with more county executives and landowners — and that parlayed the project and industrial revenue bonds into acceptance from the governing body on June 14. 2022.
Two public meetings were then held in Christian County: September 2022 and August 2023. These moments were used for community feedback, discussion by experts and consultants and an open house, she said. Stahl herself attended three Fiscal Court meetings in November 2022, as well as numerous in-person and digital conversations with the District Attorney’s Office, Westerfield and the interested public.
Stahl also confirmed that the direct owners of the project were Oriden and Steel City Energy, but they often had to refer questions from the PSC to project manager Seth Wilmore, which sparked some anger.
According to sources, more than 60 homes are affected by this project.
The full hearing can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCvK5EGC6KE&t=16s
Steel City Energy: scconserve.com