Local solar farms get go-ahead
KANKAKEE — Only nine of the nearly 50 proposed solar farms in Kankakee County are in line for the tax credits that are seen as crucial for making the projects viable.
In a lottery this week, the Illinois Power Agency selected solar projects that are eligible to receive renewable tax credits.
The projects in Kankakee County are in Bonfield, St. Anne, Grant Park, Kankakee, Manteno and Momence.
Late last year, the county said it was in the process of green-lighting 48 solar farms. Kankakee County is a hotbed for solar industry activity.
Peter Gray, spokesman for the Illinois Solar Industry Association, said the county’s local government bodies are missing out on tens of millions in tax dollars because only a fraction of the solar projects were approved for credits.
“The Illinois Power Agency did the best they could with what they had. They worked hard on it,” Gray said in an interview. “From our perspective, we need to move legislation in Springfield to expand the program overall. There are a lot of projects that are ready to go. If we have a bigger program, we can have steady growth in solar over the next few years.”
Tim Nugent, president and CEO of the Economic Alliance of Kankakee County, expressed support for solar energy.
“Rural communities need new sources of revenue right now, and solar is one way to do that,” Nugent said in a news release. “We’re interested in seeing more community solar projects move forward because at this point, we’re leaving money on the table.”
The county board approved most solar farm proposals with ease, but a handful attracted opposition. A controversial project northeast of Momence was not among those selected for tax credits.