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Lee County zoning board shines on proposed solar farm

DIXON – Lee County is moving closer to bringing its first solar farm to light.

Borrego Solar Systems Inc., a California-based company with an office in Chicago, is requesting a special-use permit from the county to build a solar farm on roughly 15 acres of farmland off of Shaw Road between Inlet and Green Wing roads in Lee Center Township.

The proposal is for a 2-megawatt system that can generate power to 300 homes in the area.

The project is likely to cost “a couple million dollars,” and construction would take 4 to 6 months, Borrego Senior Project Developer Justin Hardt told the Zoning Board on Thursday.

Board members signed off on the project, and their recommendation will go to the County Board for approval March 21.

The solar farm footprint is on a 121-acre property owned by the Richard Vivian Trust; Hardt said they have a 20-year lease on that section.

The panels would have an anti-reflective coating to prevent glare, and will be surrounded by crops during the growing season.

Michael Klingl, of Chicago-based GreenbergFarrow, an architecture, engineering, planning, landscape architecture and development services firm, said the solar farm area would be seeded with a low-grow, low-maintenance mix that would improve soil health and reduce stormwater runoff.

The project will generate tax revenue to the county and shouldn’t have any effect on property values, Klingl said. “We believe it’s going to be a benefit to the community.”

The company is pursuing an interconnection agreement with ComEd to distribute the power.

In December, the County Board approved an ordinance regulating solar farm development and outlining expectations for the construction, installation, operation and decommission of solar energy systems.

The solar project is one of several being proposed across the Sauk Valley by a handful of energy companies looking to land new renewable energy incentives in Illinois, including 15-year contracts with utility providers, rebates and tax credits available come summer.


The Lee County Board next meets at 9 a.m. March 21 in the third-floor board room of the Old Lee County Courthouse, 112 E. Second St.

The agenda will be posted at 2 days before the meeting.

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