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Local

The dawn of a new era: Lee County moves forward with first solar farm

DIXON – The county is moving forward with its first solar farm.

Borrego Solar Systems Inc., a California-based company with an office in Chicago, recently got the go-ahead from the County Board for a special-use permit 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 company’s proposal is for a 2-megawatt system that can generate power to 300 homes in the area, slated to be built on a 121-acre property owned by the Richard Vivian Trust.

The panels will have an anti-reflective coating to prevent glare and will be surrounded by crops during the growing season, and the area would be seeded with a low-grow, low-maintenance mix geared at improving soil health and reducing stormwater runoff.

The board approved the special use allowing for the solar farm unanimously last week without any discussion.

The group also set a one-time building permit fee for solar farms costing $5,000 per megawatt.

Zoning Administrator Chris Henkel said solar fees in other counties are “all over the board,” and they did a lot of research to establish the fee structure.

The Lee County Zoning Board gave a favorable recommendation for the project earlier this month, and 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.

NEXT MEETING

The Lee County Board next meets at 6 p.m. April 17 in the third-floor board room of the Old Lee County Courthouse, 112 E. Second St.

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

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