STEUBENVILLE, Ohio (WTRF) — We may be heading into the coldest time of the year…But Jefferson County officials are already looking ahead to sunnier days.

BQ Energy signed an agreement Thursday to take currently unusable strip-mined land along County Road 26 in Steubenville—and re-energize it with a 43-megawatt solar energy plant.

Jefferson County Commissioners announced the plan at their meeting this week—along with a significant property tax bonus.

Under a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement, BQ will pay about 300 thousand dollars a year minimum on the land, which currently makes the county about 20 thousand.

A full two-thirds of that will be given to county schools on top of their current funding.

“We do solar projects only on brownfields and landfills. So we use property that was otherwise unusable for another reason to build solar and bring in a significant amount of work and property taxes back to the county.”

Lori Cuervo, Director of Project Management, Clean Capital

“The thing I like about it is it’s based on their maximum capacity. So whether they’re actually achieving that or not, our taxes, our tax revenue stays, stays at that top level and it’s a 35 year project.”

Dave Maple, Jefferson County Commission Chair

Maple says it means guaranteed money for schools and the county—and the vast majority of the 200 people employed to build it will be Ohioans.

You can expect to see the panels start to go up off of Fernwood Road in the spring…and generating power by the end of 2025.