Geronimo Energy reps address fiscal court, hold forums

Geronimo Energy representatives Elle DeBlieck (left) and Courtney Pelissero unroll a map showing the location of the two solar energy sites in western Caldwell County at the public forum Tuesday in the Butler Building.

Representatives from Geronimo Energy spoke with the Caldwell Fiscal Court on Tuesday, then hosted a public forum for community members who had questions about the two solar energy projects coming to Caldwell County.

The projects are called Caldwell Solar and Golden Solar, and will provide energy to two electricity companies.

The forum came in two forms. People could call in to virtual meetings or make an appointment to come to the Butler Building auditorium at specific times to ask questions about the projects.

Elle DeBlieck, an associate developer with Geronimo Energy who spoke to the school board on Aug. 17, provided the fiscal court with information about the two projects.

The Golden Solar project is the smaller of the two at 1,000 acres and will begin construction in fall 2021. It will connect to Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities infrastructures and is expected to begin service at the end of 2022, providing up to 100 megawatts of energy.

The Caldwell Solar project will lie on 2,000 acres and will begin construction in fall 2022. It will connect to Big Rivers Electric infrastructure and is expected to begin service at the end of 2023, providing up to 200 megawatts of energy.

DeBlieck told the fiscal court that 1 megawatt provides enough energy to power 100 houses.

Geronimo Energy provides charitable funds to communities it serves. The Golden Solar project will provide about $400,000 over 20 years with an estimated $20,000 donation annually,, while the Caldwell Solar project will provide about $800,000 over 20 years, or about $40,000 annually. Most of those donations will go to the school system.

Fiscal court members had questions for DeBlieck about the forthcoming projects. District 4 Magistrate Jeff Simms asked about the lifespan of the solar panels and how they are disposed.

“The typical lifespan is about 25 years, and that’s the length of the project as well,” DeBlieck said. “These come from Tier 1 manufacturing facilities. There are some companies that we are contracted with based out of Ohio that we get these panels from. We also get some panels from Asia, and it really does fall to price at that point. If we can get them cheaper from the plant in Ohio, we do that.

“If there is a local recycling center that we can bring those panels to at the end of the project — everything is removed from the land, and whatever can be recycled is recycled. About 90% of the panels can be recycled because most of it is glass.”

Judge-Executive Larry Curling asked about training to be taught through the Caldwell Regional Career Center.

“(The panels) are all wired together in the back of them, so there is some electric training that takes place,” she said. “There is also training at some schools specifically for solar installation. I’m unfamiliar with what you have here.”

Curling said that the CRCC has good electricity programs in place and that he would like to see solar energy training added to the curriculum to increase the opportunities for local students.

DeBlieck and Courtney Pelissero, a permitting associate for Geronimo Energy, were on hand at the Butler Building throughout the day Tuesday to answer questions from area people about the solar energy projects.

Geronimo Energy provided maps and detailed information sheets about the two projects to be built near the Fredonia Quarry in west central Caldwell County.