Andrew Wecker

By Andrew Wecker, Esq.

One of the local fairs for my kids and our 4-H club has always been the Hartford Fair. In checking the website the other day for dates, listed among the sponsors were Intel; Union Ridge, a 108 megawatt solar project; and Open Road Renewables (the developer of the 120 megawatt Frasier Road project).

This captures two of the major trends playing out in Ohio. One, is energy-related development: coal to gas and solar, as well as transmission upgrades, oil & gas and possibly even hydrogen, as well as redevelopment in the case of communities with shuttered coal plants that were not converted to natural gas. Two, is the reshoring of manufacturing, of which Intel is just the highest-profile example.  

Greenfield development

An unfortunate reality of both energy-related development and reshoring is that they typically involve what developers call “greenfield development,” as opposed to urban infill and redevelopment, as if we have an unlimited supply of greenfields and money to build new infrastructure while maintaining existing infrastructure. The rest of us may see those greenfields as farm ground, countryside and open space.  

Timelines and financial considerations

Whether the ground is put under contract for sale with contingency periods or options for long-term ground leases, permitting and entitlement processes can take months and years.  

For example, for utility-scale solar projects of the sort mentioned above, expect seven years with the Ohio Power Siting Board and PJM (the multistate utility transmission organization). It is important to consider up-front payments in order to have a property tied-up, as well as the ability and capacity of the developer to actually perform. 

A new manufacturing facility will involve an outright purchase, but energy projects, whether oil & gas or wind and solar, will tend to involve options for ground leases, typically with 5-7 year option periods and, if exercised, 30-50 year operations periods and 1-3 year decommissioning periods.

With any ground lease, keep in mind advance rights to review any grading or construction plans, soil testing, pre-construction meetings and decommissioning standards such as bonding requirements. 

Wright & Moore Law Co., LPA has a rich heritage in Ohio agriculture. Since 1988, our firm has proudly assisted farmers, rural residents, and landowners from all over the state with their farm succession planning and agricultural legal needs. We would be happy to discuss your family goals and how to meet them. To learn more about Wright & Moore or schedule a meeting, call 740-990-0750 or visit

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
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