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Council brings solar ordinance to light

January 8, 2019

DIXON – The City Council signed off on rules for commercial and residential solar development Monday as the boom for renewable energy continues to grow.

Potential solar projects have cropped up throughout the Sauk Valley during the last year or so following a state initiative to have more energy come from renewable sources in years to come.

The council approved rules regulating a range of solar development from roof panels and ground arrays to larger solar farms.

Energy companies wanting to build solar farms will need a special use permit and go through the city Plan Commission before going to the council for a final vote.

Residential solar projects won’t have to go through as extensive of a process but will still need to meet a list of requirements, and ground-mounted panels cannot be visible from the street meaning front yards are off limits.

Mayor Li Arellano Jr. said the city should also look into possible savings of having solar power incorporated at city buildings.

The Plan Commission reviewed the ordinance last month and gave it unanimous approval.

The city has come across a handful of potential solar projects in and near city limits, but the bulk of proposals have gone to area counties usually looking to build in farmland areas.

Dozens of solar farm developers have lined up special use permits in the region and interconnection agreements with utility providers such as ComEd in order to land a spot in a statewide lottery that will determine what projects receive renewable energy credits.

The lottery is slated to happen this month and it’s likely that only a few solar farms will come to fruition in the area.

The solar boom was created with the Future Energy Jobs Act the state passed in late 2016 that requires utility companies to get 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025.

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