First Solar plans another expansion in Lake Twp.; school board OKs abatement


By Debbie Rogers

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MILLBURY — Another expansion for First Solar means more money for Lake Local Schools.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board of education approved a tax abatement agreement with the ever-expanding solar company. The agreement will bring an additional $149,500 annually to the district.

There will be an expansion at the first Lake Township building, said Wade Gottschalk, Wood County economic director.

“The tax abatement mirrors the first building,” he said.

In a follow-up interview, Gottschalk said the school board approval is the first part of the process. The Lake Township Trustees and Wood County Commissioners will hear the plans next week, he said.

“This is new. This is the first step in the process,” Gottschalk said.

First Solar’s main campus is in Perrysburg Township. It has manufacturing plants in Lake Township.

In October, First Solar announced plans to invest approximately $270 million in a dedicated research and development innovation center in Perrysburg. The new R&D center will be located near First Solar’s existing Perrysburg manufacturing facility, covering an area of approximately 1.3 million square feet.

In August, the company announced a $185 million upgrade of its two operating facilities in Perrysburg and Lake Township.

Also in that August release, First Solar announced plans to expand its third factory, which is currently under construction in Lake Township and expected to open early next year.

Gottschalk said that this latest expansion will start in June and should be completed by June 2025.

“We appreciate your efforts throughout the county,” said Lake Board of Education member Brad Blandin.

After the meeting, board member Tim Krugh said that the new money will go in the general fund, as all of the other First Solar tax abatement money has gone.

“That’s why we haven’t been on the ballot,” Krugh said.

The board has not requested new operating money since 2012.

During her five-year forecast report at Tuesday’s meeting, Treasurer Maria Robinson said that First Solar money makes up 4.8% of the $18.8 million in annual revenue to the district.

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