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City to pursue solar farm ordinance

DIXON – With more proposals for solar farms coming in, the city plans to draft an ordinance on how to regulate them.

Areas across the Sauk Valley have seen many solar farm proposals cropping up as energy companies look to line up projects to take advantage of incentives driven by the Future Energy Jobs Act the state passed in late 2016. It requires utility companies to get 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025.

A flood of statewide projects will be pooled into a lottery that decides what developments get on the grid, with the first round to be picked early next year.

The city has come across four potential projects during the last year.

The first was from California-based Cenergy Power, which showed interest about a year ago in leasing land at Dixon Municipal Airport, which the City Council decided not to pursue.

The council also recently reviewed two proposed developments right outside city limits for 2-megawatt solar farms. One was from Virginia-based Summit Ridge Energy to build on two sections of farmland owned by Marvin Gerdes at 1675 Pump Factory Road, the other from Georgia-based SolAmerica Energy LLC to build on about 30 acres at 2051 Lowell Park Road owned by Edwin and Mary Yingling.

The two are outside city limits, so the ultimate decision falls with the county.

The latest request is for EnterSolar LLC to build a solar farm on UPM Raflatac property east of its headquarters at 101 E. Corporate Drive in the industrial park.

The county requires solar companies to apply for a special-use permit and meet special regulations, which is what the city is leaning toward.

Mayor Li Arellano Jr. said the city should require a special-use permit, and Councilman Kevin Marx said they should try to have an ordinance in place soon, before more requests are made.

City Manager Danny Langloss said it would be a terrible idea to put a solar farm in the industrial park because it would tie up the land for more than 20 years.

A draft ordinance could come before the council as soon as its next meeting on Nov. 19.

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